Auction Item Details

Lot 47

<<   <  Jump to Lot :    >   >>  


View LOA

Lot Number: 47

Description: Scarce and Important Babe Ruth New York Yankees professional model road jersey c.1928-30. George Herman "Babe" Ruth is by very definition an icon in the history of sports and American popular culture. It is often asked as to why Ruth's notoriety remains so strong even as we are now over 100 years past his debut in Major League Baseball. There truly is no precise answer other than there was, and always will be, one Babe Ruth. Part of Ruth's legacy is most certainly owed to timing whether it be related to his status as an MLB savior after the Black Sox scandal in 1919 or a diversionary beacon for people dealing with the hardships of the great depression of the late 1920s. However, Babe Ruth would assuredly have had a generational impact no matter what era he played. His persona was as big as his heart and he lived each day to its fullest. Americans identified with Babe and his humble beginnings to which he rewarded their faith by growing to become the most popular public figure in the country if not the world. Babe's feats on the baseball field and flamboyant life off the diamond kept fans glued to their radios, newspapers, magazines, and local watering holes. While tales of Ruth's behavioral discrepancies abound there are innumerably more which relay visits to children's hospitals or standing outside a stadium to sign autographs for every last boy or girl who had waited for their hero. Babe authentically understood the importance of his influence of the youth of America. His upbringing was complicated, difficult, and full of hardships. All of that never deterred the Babe from getting where he wanted to in his life. Teammate Harry Hooper remarked, "Sometimes I still can't believe what I saw. This 19 year-old kid, crude, poorly educated, only lightly brushed by the social veneer we call civilization, gradually transformed into the idol of American youth and the symbol of baseball the world over - a man loved by more people and with an intensity of feeling that perhaps has never been equaled before or since." For all of these reasons and many others, memorabilia relating to Babe Ruth has been the most desired of any sport (and most non-sport) categories essentially ever since he took the field. Ruth's popularity almost single handedly revolutionized the way in which athletes were utilized in marketing and promotions. The use of his image or autograph facsimile on household products, food items, publications, musical productions, and motion pictures created an insatiable demand for anything related to same. Young boys would battle for his baseball card or collect dozens of cereal coupons for a chance to acquire an item related to the Bambino. As a result, collectors have enjoyed a healthy population of Ruth related items for decades at various levels ranging from $25 souvenir items to $25,000 autograph pieces. Conversely, the supply of Babe Ruth related game used materials is not able to even be classified as scant. Yes, Ruth professional model bats are found on occasion almost definitively due to the original quantity created and their material construction that allows for a good survival rate. Only a handful of attributed Babe Ruth professional model gloves have surfaced and with the exception of the example in the National Baseball Hall of Fame as donated by the Ruth family few are accepted as authentic. The number of Babe Ruth professional model baseball hats for the Yankees, Braves, Dodgers, or barnstorming teams he played for likely totals between 5 to 10. However, let there be no doubt that the pinnacle of all Babe Ruth items, and sports memorabilia in general, is a jersey as once donned by the Bambino himself. To the best of our knowledge, there are six Babe Ruth New York Yankees professional model jerseys of merit known to exist. This includes both private and institutional collections such as the National Baseball Hall of Fame. If we expand the category to allow for Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves, and various barnstorming or "All-Star" teams there would be an additional five or six Babe Ruth jerseys of any quality. Within that limited population we are honored to present the only specimen dating to the golden era of Babe's storied career during the late 1920s period. Babe Ruth New York Yankees professional model road jersey manufactured of a grey flannel body retaining its original "Yankees" team name across the front in blue applied lettering. Spalding manufacturer's label remains affixed within the collar area along with "Ruth" chain stitched name identifier having appropriately faded from red to a salmon color. Size "46" size indicator is found chain stitched onto the tail as seen on other Yankees jerseys of the period. Extremely rare original linen draw strings or "fat straps" are located at the bottom of the back tail area as these were very often removed by the players as being bothersome. Uncommonly, the jersey also retains its original buttons with only two having minor stitch reinforcement noted for accuracy only. Upon examination of the back of the jersey under illumination there is evidence of a diamond point numeral "3" which was removed from the jersey at some point. Overall evident use is exceptional yet not abusive with appropriate age/sunlight toning and general moderate surface wear. Upon receipt of the offered jersey for this historic auction we undertook a process of extensive research in a number of categories in an attempt to narrow down or perhaps precisely date the jersey. To begin, the "Yankees" nickname found on the subject jersey dates specifically to the 1927 to 1930 seasons. It was the only time in which the historic New York American League franchise ever displayed their iconic team nickname on their uniforms. Through exhaustive photographic comparison we are confident, unfortunately, to be able to eliminate the Yankees historic 1927 season as a potential for the subject jersey. There are numerous period documented images from the 1927 season which show Ruth in Yankees road jersey(s) having distinctively conflictive traits versus the subject jersey most notably button placement. For the 1930 season comparisons we were not able to locate any definitive affirmations to the positive or negative with the subject jersey. Additionally, as will be explained further herein, in our opinion the likelihood of the 1930 season attribution is inferior due to the high probability of 1928-29 use. This bring us to the seasons of 1928 and 1929. First, as illustrated within this auction catalogue we were able to locate several images dating from a range of mid 1928 through mid 1929 that appear to picture Babe Ruth wearing a Yankees road jersey with highly favorable comparative traits to the subject jersey. Note the button placement with specific comparison to its correlation to the top and bottom of the "K" in Yankees. Additionally, although more subtle, the font style and apparent sizing of the lettering is also more consistent with the 1928 and 1929 season images versus 1927 and 1930. It is widely accepted that a maximum of two jerseys for each style (road and home) were issued each season. It is also documented that on occasion the jerseys were routinely worn over several seasons provided the year to year style was identical and usage wear did not require replacement. Next we evaluated the presence of the vestiges of a numeral "3" on the reverse of the jersey. In 1927 and 1928 the Yankees did not have any player numerals on the jerseys as issued. Beginning with the 1929 season the numbers were added to each jersey based on the position in the batting line up of the particular player. Ruth hit third in the line up which is consistent with the vestiges of the "3" on the jersey and would account for the use into the 1929 season as evidenced by the aforementioned images. Upon examination of comparable 1927-30 jerseys no reasonable differential in uniform tagging could be determined to point to one year versus another. In conclusion, based on the documentary images depicting Ruth wearing a similar or identical jersey from mid 1928 to mid 1929 we believe that it is most likely this particular jersey. This explanation is the only one which accounts for both the photographic similarities to documented 1928 imagery along with the May 1929 image and "3" vestiges on the back of the shirt. The importance of this particular jersey is not easliy measured. The historic moments that occured during the time period of its potential use include 1928 World Series, 500th Home Run, and undoubtedly numerous soaring home runs at stadiums around the American League. When considering the rank of this jersey within the most significant sports related artifacts ever sold at public auction there is a very substantive case to place it at or near the top of that short roster. We are honored to present this generational collecting and investment opportunity. The jersey will be accompanied by a full published and bound SGC letter of authenticity in a presentational box, LOA from Hunt Auctions, and modern copies of the various related images depicting Ruth wearing similar if not identical jersey: Graded "Excellent/Superior" by Dave Grob/SGC Authentication (Please note: All bidders wishing to bid on this jersey must be pre-qualified, please contact Hunt Auctions in advance.)

Estimated Price Range: Estimate Upon Request

Sold for Price: Login or Register