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    Massive forty-seven ounce war club is the heaviest Ruth gamer known!

    1921 Babe Ruth Personally Documented Home Run Bat Attributed to Record 59th of the Season, PSA/DNA GU 10. "I wish him all the luck in the world," Yankees teammate Frank "Home Run" Baker told the press midway through the 1921 season. "He has everybody else, including myself, hopelessly outclassed."

    It's likely that the aging star of Connie Mack's "$100,000 Infield" felt a bit sheepish about his own moniker as he shared a dugout with Ruth, having never put more than a dozen into the seats during any season of his own career. It had taken the Babe just twenty-five games to match Baker's best during that spectacular 1921 season, one commonly considered the finest of Ruth's storied career. One of those early clouts, off inaugural Hall of Fame classmate Walter Johnson, cleared the high center field wall of Griffith Stadium, landing 520 feet from home plate. Two months later, Ruth escaped Navin Field with a shot estimated between 575 and 600 feet, the longest verified home run in Major League history. He'd clear the double-deck roof of the Polo Grounds two weeks after that.

    By season's end, the Babe would belt at least one 500-plus foot blast in each of the eight American League ballparks.

    And so it was not just the frequency but also the impossible trajectory of Ruth's home runs that etched his name ever more indelibly into living American folklore in 1921, and slammed the door forever on the Dead Ball Era. The decadent Roaring Twenties had found its perfect athletic representative, larger than life in every way.

    Few sporting relics are as instantly evocative of their original master as the presented signature model Hillerich & Bradsby R2, an impossibly heavy slab of ash just a quarter-inch shy of a yard in length (35.75") and an ounce shy of three pounds in weight (47 oz.). In the rudimentary physical equation of force equals mass times speed, we find the first clue to the puzzle in the bat's wrist-straining heft, at forty-seven ounces the weightiest Ruth gamer ever to cross the hobby's auction block.

    Leading bat expert John Taube assesses the game use as "excellent," noting several prominent ball marks on the left barrel, correct for Ruth's label-down batting stance, and cleat marks throughout. Defined lathe marks appear on knob and barrel end. Center brand and barrel stamping are deeply burned and flawless. The bat retains its original finish, which has aged beautifully and today exudes a rich mahogany tone.

    A rectangular area of pale shading is almost certainly the outline of the mailing label that directed this important relic to its second owner (after Ruth himself). While that purported label has been lost to history, we do have the original letter that accompanied the bat. It reads as follows:

    "October 13, 1921

    To my Friend 'Fred P. Weber, Phoenix, Arizona

    It gives me great pleasure to present you with this-my trustworthy bat with which I batted out my 57th and 58th [corrected to 59th] home-runs at the Polo Grounds-New York City on September 26, 1921 and broke my own world's home run record.

    Yours in Baseball,

    [signed] 'Babe' Ruth."

    The letter is typed on the letterhead of the Hotel Ansonia on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the home of not just Ruth but also fellow Yankees Wally Schang, Lefty O'Doul and Bob Meusel. The hotel had a well-earned reputation in those days for hedonism, drawing a mix of gamblers, athletes and socialites from reigning Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey to Florenz Ziegfield, the biggest name in burlesque. It was in Chicago White Sox first baseman Chick Gandil's room at the Ansonia that the conspiracy to throw the 1919 World Series was born.

    And it was here that the Babe, who often roamed the corridors in a silk robe as if the entire building were merely an extension of his personal suite, made the acquaintance of brothers Harry and Fred Weber, the former serving as Ruth's booking agent for vaudeville engagements prior to the emergence of Christy Walsh. A New York Times article dated October 28, 1921 reports on the profitable relationship:

    "The home run king will take his first turn at bat as a thespian in the Keith Theatre in Boston on Monday, Nov. 7...Ruth's contract with the Keith organization calls for twenty weeks at the modest salary of $3,000 per week. At the signing of the contract Ruth was represented by Harry Weber, who will manage him during his theatrical career..."

    The closing line of the article states:

    "The Babe has turned over his treasured home run bats and balls to the Keith people for advertising purposes, and they will be featured in the lobbies of the theatres in which he is playing before and during the big league engagement."

    It is noteworthy that a nearly identical bat, with a nearly identical letter, resides in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The small differences between the two letters further assist in identifying the presented model as the one used by Ruth to hit his 59th and final home run on October 2nd, the last day of the 1921 season.

    The letter accompanying the Hall of Fame bat is addressed to Harry Weber (rather than Fred), dated a day earlier, and signed secretarially. Otherwise the text and the letterhead are identical. Close inspection of the letter accompanying the offered bat suggests that the earlier letter was simply copied word for word by a far less skilled typist, then updated by hand. We see the numbers altered, and evidence that the date was partially erased. The reasonable conclusion is that instructions to change the letter appropriately during the typing phase were unheeded, leaving Ruth himself to alter the letter to brother Fred Weber himself. Both the offered original letter and a photocopy of the earlier letter sent to Harry Weber are posted on our website, and will be provided to the winning bidder. There are also photocopied letters from Weber's nephew Jerry Ball who inherited the bat from his uncle, and from the woman whose husband was given the bat shortly before Ball's passing in the 1980's.

    While any bat wielded by the greatest name in baseball history is properly considered an American treasure, it must be stressed that the listed representation finds itself in an elite class that could be enumerated on a single hand. It's unquestionably the most significant Ruth home run bat to cross the hobby's auction block since the one that launched the first home run at Yankee Stadium in 1923 commanded $1.3 million over a decade ago, the heaviest known, and the only example in private hands accompanied by the Babe's own signed letter of provenance. LOA from PSA/DNA, GU 10. LOA from MEARS, A10* (asterisk indicating elite status). Full LOA from PSA/DNA (autograph on Ruth letter of provenance). Full LOA from James Spence Authentication (autograph on Ruth letter of provenance).

    More information about Babe Ruth.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    February, 2015
    21st-22nd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 17
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