An extraordinary collection with ironclad provenance1941 Babe Ruth Exhibition Used Home Run Bat & Single Signed Baseball. Long before Kevin Costner heard the disembodied voice in the cornfields, John V. Brady had a dream of his own to bring the greatest figures in baseball to another most unlikely place. He was the state softball commissioner of Rhode Island, tasked with the rather challenging role of increasing attendance to his annual postseason softball tournament. Certain that a grand gesture was the only surefire solution, Brady reached out to the two greatest hitters alive, one already settled deeply into retirement, the other a young star in the midst of one of the greatest seasons ever.
Brady was as shocked as anybody when both Babe Ruth and Ted Williams agreed to appear. The price for Ruth's services was $700. But Williams was hitting .410 as he made his way to the September 2, 1941 appearance on an off-day between meetings with the Senators and Yankees at Fenway, and demanded that he be paid more than Ruth. He got it: $725.
They would appear separately on September 2nd and 3rd at Pierce Memorial Stadium in East Providence. Brady recalled, "I had Ruth hit 24 new baseballs and then I had him sign a dozen balls that I gave out to people. Same thing with Ted the following night. And they both signed a lot of autographs for kids."
The volume of period documentation is simply too much to list here, with various newspapers and photocopies thereof featuring ads of the impending visits prior to the sluggers' appearance and reports of the events afterwards. One article is headlined "Ruth's Home-Run Ball Bound for Portsmouth," telling the tale of the young man who grabbed one of the Babe's blasts. Best is a tattered page from the September 3rd edition of The Providence Journal which pictures Ruth posing with a bat. "Feels out the war club," reads the caption.
PSA/DNA's bat expert John Taube confirms in his lengthy letter of examination that, based on the grain pattern of the wood, the bat in the photograph is the same one presented in this lot, leading Taube to state that this is, "In short, the most well documented Ruth bat we have seen since the bat he used to hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium on Opening Day, 1923." This opinion is further enhanced by a staggering array of further documentation (each laminated), as follows:
1) August 18, 1941 Western Union telegram from Ruth to Brady outlining Ruth's terms for consenting to participation in the event.
2) August 23, 1941 telegram from Ruth to Brady confirming payment has been received.
3) August 28, 1941 invoice to Brady from Hillerich & Bradsby for two "Babe Ruth Models--to be used for a baseball hitting exhibition given by Babe Ruth."
4) September 3, 1941 receipt for "The Providence Biltmore" hotel featuring a $7.70 room charge and $36.55 food charge for "Mr. & Mrs. G.H. Ruth," paid by John V. Brady.
The bat exhibits several dark ball strikes on the top barrel, a testament to the power the Babe still commanded a half dozen years into retirement. The signature model R43 measures thirty-five inches in length and weighs just over thirty-five ounces. A bit of paint appears on the handle but otherwise the bat is flawlessly preserved. As Taube notes, the grain pattern puts the bat directly into Ruth's hands.
If the story ended there, it would still be one of the most exciting lots we've had the privilege to offer, but there's even more. Also here are single signed baseballs from each of the celebrated sluggers, Ruth's example personalized "To Jack Brady From Babe Ruth." Williams simply signs the side panel. Both balls are non-official, toned an amber color with black fountain pen ink rating 7/10. This remarkable archive is consigned to Heritage by the Brady family and makes its hobby debut here. LOA from PSA/DNA (bat). Full LOA from PSA/DNA (Ruth signed baseball). Full LOA from PSA/DNA (Williams signed baseball). Documentation as noted in lot text.
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