Description1948 Babe Ruth Single Signed Baseball, PSA/DNA NM-MT 8. Magnificent sweet spot signature rates 9/10. "Official 97 League" baseball is assessed at 7/10 for the combined grade as listed. Full Grading LOA from PSA/DNA, NM-MT 8. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
The Babe's Final Signing: A Thrilling New Find of High-Grade Bambinos.
"It was a shock, seeing the gaunt, shrunken giant shamble into the hotel room which had been set aside for the Babe's brief chat with newspapermen," wrote journalist Bill Bryson in the August 17, 1948 edition of the Spencer (IA) Daily Reporter. "Weary and weak though he was, the Babe was still a commanding personality and, as his tortured vocal chords warmed up, he grated out quick, witty answers to questions about baseballs' most famous career." Every newspaper in the country, and many internationally, ran an obituary for this titan of the sporting world the day after his August 16th passing, but to the small town of Spencer, Iowa, the loss took on a particularly personal aspect.
Just two months earlier, the terminally ill Home Run King had participated in the final public signing of his life at the Spencer Ford dealership owned by John Hart, president of Spencer Baseball, Inc. An advocate of youth baseball to the very end, Ruth had agreed to visit the small Midwestern town to present a trophy to the winning team in a Chamber of Commerce baseball tournament sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. The Altoona Upper Des Moines newspaper announces the royal arrival in its Tuesday, June 18, 1948 issue with the headline, "Babe Ruth In Person To Be At Spencer, June 21st," going on to explain, "Sponsoring Ruth's only appearance in Iowa are the American Legion, Spencer Baseball, Inc., the Chamber of Commerce, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, and the Clay County Fair Association. Ruth is being brought to Iowa by the Ford Motor Co., by whom he is employed in the interests of Junior League Baseball."
Presented in the lots that follow are eight baseballs autographed by Ruth during this visit, each accompanied by a letter of provenance from a representative of the Hart family. The baseballs have remained all but untouched in a bank's safe deposit box for most of the six decades since their meeting with the Babe, though a few were autographed by others decades later, including one by John Hart himself, who mistakenly recalled the date of Ruth's visit as July 12th when he signed and notated the ball in 1975.
The Babe would make just two more public appearances after this day in Spencer--first at the film premier of "The Babe Ruth Story" in Manhattan on July 26th, and then less than a month later as he lay in state at Yankee Stadium. The stunning condition, the ironclad provenance and the special vintage of the offered spheres elevate them to the pinnacle of collecting appeal.
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