The most coveted relic from the game's most famous foreign excursion1934 Tour of Japan Official Photograph Album with Team Signed Sheet Belonging to Tour Member Eric McNair. It was a baseball story that had it all--an exotic locale, a superstar cast, and even a dose of international espionage. It's little wonder that the 1934 Tour of Japan continues to fascinate a full eight decades after Ruth, Gehrig and the boys were welcomed by a half million fans lined ten to twenty deep on the streets of Tokyo in a blizzard of confetti. Though the Babe had never set foot on Asian shores prior to the Tour, magazines such as Yakyukai and Asahi Sports had long trumpeted his exploits in America, and he drew the loudest ovations as he rode in an open limousine with his Yankee teammate Lou Gehrig in the parade motorcade. For a month, the American Tourists enjoyed the hospitality and adulation of the people of Japan, playing eighteen exhibition games in a dozen cities, winning every one of them.
Absent was any evidence of the increasing political tension between the two nations, The New York Times reporting, "The Babe's big bulk today blotted out such unimportant things as international squabbles over oil and navies." But seven years later a "date that will live in infamy" provided insight into an unusual roster addition. While the Hall of Fame cast of characters hand-picked by Connie Mack represented the best of the Majors, a light-hitting Ivy Leaguer named Moe Berg had been tapped for Japanese duty by the United States government. In the guise of an excited tourist, the catcher/spy documented the trip in film that would be used for bombing strikes during the Second World War.
The eight decades and Pacific Ocean that separate this historic Tour from present day America have greatly complicated the search for relics from the game's most famous foreign excursion, and the provided example is found at the top of most collectors' want lists. The exceedingly rare leatherbound volume was created only for players and VIP's associated with the Tour, this model being one of those presented to a Japanese participant as evidenced by the embossed text on cover and the reversed format of the binding and pagination. We do not know how McNair came to own this Japanese version, but it does derive from his family. Note that Heritage sold McNair's personal/American version of the Tour album for $35,850 in our May 2014 Signature auction.
The first interior page of the album provides its most important component, an unlined sheet autographed in 9/10 or better fountain pen ink by the nineteen members of the American contingent and their translator Solori Suzuki. The cast, in order of signing:
Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Frank (Lefty) O'Doul, Bing Miller, Lefty Gomez, Eric McNair, Rabbit Warstler, Frank Hayes, Earl Averill, John Quinn, Charlie Gehringer, Joseph Cascarella, Robert Schroeder, Doc Ebling, Lou Gehrig, Moe Berg, Earl Whitehill, Jimmie Foxx, Clint Brown.
Two signed pages from Japanese competition follow, and then twenty-four official 9x11" photographs snapped during the Tour, picturing the team's arrival, celebratory banquets, team shots and packed stadiums. Some of the interior photos exhibit some damage, mainly chipped corners and a few longer tears, but only the rarest of occasion is the central focus of the image affected. Covers exhibit storage wear.
The book derives from the personal collection of American Tourist Eric McNair, a player who earned membership on this team of legends through his Philadelphia Athletics service to Tour team manager Connie Mack. A letter of provenance from McNair's son will attend. Letter of provenance from son of Eric McNair. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.
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2017 November 19 "Heroes of Sport" Catalog Auction - Dallas