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The Most Important Babe Ruth Game Used Bat on Earth....

2009 October Signature Sports Memorabilia Auction #716

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Auction Ended On: Oct 2, 2009
Item Activity: 20 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

The Most Important Babe Ruth Game Used Bat on Earth. Though the most famous Babe Ruth game used bat of all is certainly the specimen he used to launch the first home run at Yankee Stadium on Opening Day, 1923, a relic which commanded $1.2 million at a December 2004 auction, a strong argument could be made that the presented example is the more historically significant. Predating that seven-figure model by five seasons, this remarkable lumber is Ruth's very first Hillerich & Bradsby, born of his first professional contract with the bat manufacturer signed on July 9, 1918.

Upon the young Red Sox superstar's agreement to terms with H&B, he was shipped several bats of varying weights and sizes in order to determine which best suited his powerful swing. This is the model he chose, returning it to the Louisville factory to be duplicated and establishing it as the "parent" of Ruth bats to come. The factory workers stamped Ruth's name into the knob (barely discernible today) as well as the vault mark "R2," signifying this as the template for other Ruth bats in the future. The center brand was likewise applied after Ruth's use.

It is essential to note that Ruth's ownership of this bat prior to its return to Louisville was not brief, as is evidenced by the considerable quality of use on the left side of the bat, proper for the Babe's famous left-handed stance. Like many known Ruth gamers, the area of impact is very tightly centralized, a fact which bears witness to Ruth's amazing hand-eye coordination that made him the most productive hitter of his age. Scattered spike divots are also apparent in the top quality white ash, which has mellowed to a deep and gorgeous patina not unlike fine antique furniture.

As a bat used by the game's greatest figure during the historic 1918 World Championship Red Sox season, the importance of this lot is difficult to overstate. The fact that this precise bat served as the prototype for all Ruth models to follow from July 9, 1918 through 1926 further elevates the offering toward the outer limits of baseball relevance, challenging and surpassing all but a few relics housed within the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The bat remains in stunning, undamaged condition today, its length and weight of thirty-six inches and thirty-nine ounces recalling the baby Babe's personal specs in his years in both Boston and the first half of his Yankees service. A ream of paperwork from leading authenticators John Taube (who calls the bat "arguably the finest and most historically significant bat extant") and Vince Malta is available by fax for serious bidders. Dave Bushing and MEARS likewise chime in, providing a grade of A10*, the asterisk denoting superiority even to the few other A10 graded Ruth bats. LOA from PSA/DNA. LOA from MEARS.

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