MEARS Auction #115, Ends Saturday, May 5th, 2018, 10:00 PM CST W/30-Minute Rule In Effect
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/6/2018

This lot represents a fresh to the hobby Babe Ruth professional model bat dating to his time as coach for the Brooklyn Dodgers and an authentic autograph signed on a vintage album page. Originating in the town of Hingham, MA, a mere 17 miles from National League Park, this bat was used while the Dodgers traveled to play the Boston Bees.

On June 15th, 1938, the Dodgers played the Reds at Ebbets Field. It was the Dodger’s first night game, and Johnny Vander Meer pitched a no hitter. The stands were packed that night with 38,000 fans, all wanting to be a part of the historic night game. Babe Ruth was in attendance, and his presence caused quite a stir. Dodgers executive Larry MacPhail noticed the commotion and offered Ruth a contact to capitalize on the excitement. Shortly after, Ruth was in a Dodgers uniform. He served as first base coach and also traveled with the team.

Babe Ruth was signed by the Dodgers in mid-June to coach the team. It was reported that after an early-morning call came from John A. MacDonald, McPhail’s road secretary. On the phone, MacDonald read this bare statement: ''The Dodgers have signed Babe Ruth to a coach's contract. Ruth will report in uniform tomorrow for the doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs.'' This would have been June 18th, 1938.

The article also goes on to state,

“Ruth did more than that. He reported with his old bats, his favorite Betsies, as he called them. “(source ) This quote is very telling as the model of Ruth bat being offered dates to the 1920s.

While with the Dodgers, Ruth appeared in exhibition games, batting practice, and many impromptu homerun contests.

On Aug. 29, in bucolic Forbes Field, Pittsburgh, the Babe plunked himself down on the bench after his daily home-run hitting contest with Babe Phelps, a teammate. He was full of himself. ''He beat me twice,'' Ruth said, ''but I hit the ball hard and I'm still two up on him.'' Ruth could still hit, and this bat was with him.

In addition, a collection of three team signed sheets accompanies this bat. Never before has a group of autographs signed on an album page provide so much history in the support of a historic Ruth bat. The three sheets are signed by a grouping of both Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Bees players. With the Dodgers era Ruth game used bat having originated in the shadows of the Bee’s hometown stadium, the autograph album page signed by 22 Boston players and 12 Brooklyn Dodgers including Ruth support the bat has being been used by Ruth during this 1938 road trip. Extensive research documented that every player that signed the album pages were all identified as having played on their respective 1938 teams. Additionally, the majority of the players appeared in the box scores of the August 12th-August 14th five game series.

Therefore, according to the team’s schedule, Ruth would have been in town to play on the following days:

June 29th

June 30th

August 12th

August 13th

August 14th

A review of the box scores revealed that the majority of players on both teams appeared in the August 12th-14th series. Five game were played during those three dates, two being double headers.

Brooklyn Dodgers

Johnny Hudson (8/12/38)

Gilly Campbell (8/12/38)

Luke Hawkins (8/12/38)

Packey Rogers (8/14/38)

Goody Rosen (8/14/38)

Wayne LaMaster (8/13/38)

Merv Shea (8/14/38)

Ernie Koy (8/14/38)

Jim Turner (8/12/38)

Fred Hoey (8/12/38) Announcer

Joe Stripp

…and coach Babe Ruth

Boston Bees

Leif Errickson (8/13/38)

Ira Hutchinson (8/13/38)

Mike Balas (on roster)

John Lanning (on roster)

Mike Shoffner (on roster)

George L Kelly (coach)

Tony Cuccinello (8/13/38)

Debs Garms (8/13/38)

Louis Fette (8/14/38)

Joe Stripp (8/13/38)

Harl Maggert (8/13/38)

Bobby Reis (8/13/38)

Max West (8/13/38)

Danny MacFayden (8/13/38)

Ray Mueller (8/14/38)

Vince DiMaggio (8/14/38)

Elbie Fletcher (8/14/38)

Rabbit Warstler (8/14/38)

John Cooney (8/14/38)

Casey Stengel (Manager)

Al Lopez (8/14/38)

John Cooney (8/14/38)

Also, each album page was noted in vintage ink with the key date of 1938. The Dodgers page is marked in the upper right corner in vintage ink “Brooklyn 1938”. The hometown autographed album page is also noted “Boston ‘Bees” 1938”.

The original owner, by collecting the autographs of the 1938 teams and writing the team names and 1938 on the album pages provided future collectors an unintended “letter of authenticity” as to the origin of this historic piece. The pages have been authenticated by the expert staff of JSA Autographs and a full letter of authenticity accompanies this lot.

With provenance established, bat expert Troy R. Kinunen examined the bat. His review:

Date (1938): The factory stampings of this bat are consistent with the 1924-1930 era. This is determined by the lack of the 1930 patent stamp which appeared on Hanna Batrite knobs after their costly battle with Hillerich & Bradsby.

Manufacturer (Hanna Batrite): Research has revealed that Batrite was a supplier of the New York Yankees and documented examples of Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Lazzeri have entered the hobby. The “bat logo” centerbrand was used by the company from 1924-1932 circa before being replaced with a simple “Batrite” centerbrand marking.

Player Name (RUTH): Stamped on the barrel end is “RUTH” in block letters. Bats stamped at the Hanna Batrite factory are considered professional model only. Bats stamped in this manner were never offered as retail or store models, make this version the most desirable among collectors.

Model 4: Model 4 was designated as Ruth’s model for Hanna Batrite.

Length (34”): Measuring 34” in length, this bat is shorter than what Ruth is referenced as using as a player, but totally acceptable for an aging coach. The length, 34” is stamped into the knob of the bat.

Weight (37.7 ounces): Weighing 37.7 ounces, the weight is acceptable for being used by Ruth during his time as a coach with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The weight is also supported by H&B ordering records. Review of Ruth’s records show that he did have some Louisville Sluggers shipped to him in 1938 that weight between 36-38 ounces, also supporting the bats 37.7 ounce weight as being correct for the era.

Game Use: Bat shows heavy game use, ball marks, and compression marks of the grain. The bat handle is taped with 9” of period vintage black tape. Ruth rarely used tape during his career, but photos of him later in life and in his final spring trainings did show him adopting the practice. Since the tape appears to be vintage, attribution to Ruth as a coach is possible.

Provenance: This bat and autographs are fresh to the hobby and has resided in a Hingham, MA home since 1938. A letter from the consignor will accompany this lot.

Final Grade (MEARS A8): A base grade of 5 points was assigned for bat being consistent with respect to length and weight acceptable for a coach, and a known Hanna Batrite model. 3 points for heavy use. The provenance supports the Batrite model as having been used by Ruth as a coach during the 1938 season. LOA Troy R. Kinunen / MEARS. The Babe Ruth autograph sheet comes with a full JSA LOA.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $19,103
Number Bids: 30
Auction closed on Sunday, May 6, 2018.
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