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1947 Babe Ruth Signed Photograph to Famed Photographer Nat Fein....

2013 February 23 - 24 Platinum Night Sports Auction - New York #7070

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Auction Ended On: Feb 23, 2013
Item Activity: 9 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Ukrainian Institute of America at The Fletcher-Sinclair Mansion
2 East 79th Street
New York, NY 10075

Extraordinary inscription from subject to creator of Pulitzer Prize-winning image
1947 Babe Ruth Signed Photograph to Famed Photographer Nat Fein. One brief, heartwrenching moment has linked these two towering figures of their respective disciplines for all eternity, a photographic masterpiece that forms the far bookend of the Babe's storied career. It was New York Herald Tribune lensman Nat Fein who snuck behind the frail, dying legend as he gazed one final time upon a vast expanse of packed Yankee Stadium grandstands in June of 1948 and captured a shot that rates among the most famous in American sport. We must note that the largest known period example of this image, "The Babe Bows Out," is offered within this Platinum Night auction, deriving from the photographer's personal estate, as does this offered lot.

The presented image dates to "Babe Ruth Day" of 1947, the legendary slugger's second to last appearance on the field he consecrated throughout the first dozen seasons of its existence. His voice, ravaged by cancer, alternated from a croak to a whisper as he addressed the crowd:

"Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. You know how bad my voice sounds. Well, it feels just as bad. You know, this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you're a boy and grow up to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing clubs today in your national pastime. The only real game in the world, I think, is baseball."

As the Babe struggled through his brief speech, Fein stepped beyond the iconic slugger's left shoulder and snapped this image, later presenting it to Ruth for his autograph. In black fountain pen ink, the inscription reads, "To my good friend Nat Fein From Babe Ruth 4-27-47." It would appear that the photo was actually signed three days later, as Ruth initially dated his inscription "4-30-47," but we suspect that Fein asked that he alter the date to that of the image, which Ruth does just above. The ink of Ruth's famous nickname has faded somewhat, but the bulk of the inscription rates an impressive 8/10 to 9/10 in strength.

Just over thirteen months later, these two men would meet again for the very last time, together creating an image that would claim the Pulitzer Prize and status as one of the most recognizable photographs in our shared cultural history. Included with this 8x10" photograph, tastefully matted and framed to dimensions of 12x14", is a letter of provenance from the curator and administrator of the Nat Fein Estate. Photo exhibits a couple light corner bends at top, but these are only apparent upon close inspection. Letter of provenance from Nat Fein Estate. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.

1947 Babe Ruth Signed Photograph to Famed Photographer Nat Fein.

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