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Description1935 Babe Ruth Game Worn Boston Braves Cap from Teammate's Estate. "All ballplayers should quit when it starts to feel as if all the baselines run uphill," Ruth told a reporter near the end of his two-decade term of Major League service. Much like future Yankees legend Mickey Mantle, who was just four years old when the Babe hung up his spikes, Ruth's ballplaying brilliance had been a pure gift of genetics, the fine edge of his talent inexorably dulled with each passing year by a hard-charging lifestyle of wine, women and song. Ruth knew he had little left to give to the sport he had defined for the better part of two decades as he took his last swings at Yankee Stadium on September 30, 1934. Just 2,500 fans came to the Stadium to bid him farewell. Ruth went zero for three.
An eventful off-season found the Babe traveling to the Far East for the famous 1934 Tour of Japan, and upon his return to the States he battled Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert in an attempt to seize the Yankees' managerial reins from Joe McCarthy. Ruppert's conciliatory offer of the minor league Newark Bears position was rejected. Briefly Connie Mack considered stepping down as Athletics skipper for the Babe, but ultimately decided against it. An opportunity with the Detroit Tigers was squandered when Ruth missed a scheduled meeting with owner Frank Navin.
Finally Ruth got the offer he had been seeking, or at least something that closely resembled it. Boston Braves owner Emil Fuchs, debt-ridden and in desperate need of increased ticket sales, offered Ruth a playing contract, the team vice presidency, a share of profits and a clear path to the manager's position, perhaps as early as 1936. And so, on February 26, 1935, the Yankees traded Ruth to the Braves.
The Babe's return to Boston after a sixteen-year absence initially had the desired effect, inspiring enthusiasm for the National League team not seen since the Miracle of 1914. Before an Opening Day crowd of over 25,000, the Babe drove in all four runs in the club's defeat of the New York Giants. The victory would sadly prove to be the only day of the season the Braves surpassed the .500 mark, and the degradation of Ruth's skills only became more apparent as the weeks passed. His fielding was so atrocious that three Braves pitchers threatened not to take the mound with Ruth in the line-up. Soon his hitting failed as well. It also became apparent that Ruth was a team executive in name only, with no real power in the decision-making process. The promise of profit sharing likewise was revealed as illusory. In every way, Ruth's baseball dreams were crashing around him.
And so, batting well under .200 and with just three home runs in close to one hundred plate appearances, Ruth could hope for little more than one last flash of brilliance. It came on May 25th at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field, where he had dominated the Pirates at the close of the greatest season of his career just eight years earlier. Perhaps it was that memory that brought back the magic one last time, as Ruth went four-for-four with three home runs, the third clearing the roof at Forbes Field, the first time the feat was accomplished in the stadium's twenty-six season history. This historic long ball would prove to be the 714th and final of Ruth's career.
Five days later, the Babe struck out in the first inning at Philadelphia's Baker Bowl. In the bottom half of the inning Ruth injured his knee chasing a fly and limped off the field. Two days after that, Ruth summoned reporters to the locker room after a meeting with the Giants to announce his retirement.
America's love for the game of baseball is due in large part to its constancy. For six months of the year it is with us every day like a faithful friend, and its reemergence every spring signals new life and new hope just as the flowers springing from the cold earth. But the mortality of the individual is never spared, and no artifact we've ever encountered symbolizes the notion better than the presented cap, signifying the final sentence of one of the greatest chapters of our National Pastime. The cap survives in splendid, undamaged condition, with the interior leather headband boldly embroidered "G. Ruth" in green thread. It derives from the personal collection of 1935 Braves teammate Ray Mueller and is accompanied by a letter of provenance from the Mueller family. One could reasonably assume that teammates would be seeking souvenirs from the Babe only upon the announcement of his retirement, so we can dare to dream that this is the cap Ruth wore for his final appearances, inclusive of that last meteoric burst across the baseball sky when he deposited number 714 upon the unsuspecting streets of Pittsburgh. Letter of provenance from Mueller family. LOA from MEARS. LOA from Heritage Auctions.
Guide Value or Estimate: $200,000 - up.
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2017 June 29 Premium Sportscard Catalog Auction - Dallas