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    Lucky fan's souvenir reported in 1934 newspaper!

    1934 Babe Ruth Career Home Run #702 Baseball with Remarkable Provenance. On July 23, 1934, there was only one story on the lips of every Chicago resident, and it wasn't Babe Ruth. Though the legendary slugger had returned from injury to club the 702nd home run of his career at Comiskey Park the day before, it was a different blast that Sunday that shook the Windy City to its core, coming from the muzzles of FBI agents trained on the disguised form of notorious gangster/fugitive John Dillinger. Banner headlines trumpeted the news atop every front page, two picturing the corpse like a prized trout, another simply the pool of blood in the alley outside the Biograph Theater where Dillinger's luck finally ran out.

    But for lifelong baseball fan visiting the big city to enjoy the "Century of Progress" World's Fair, the date of Dillinger's killing took on a far less sinister personal relevance. With the New York Yankees in town that weekend to meet the White Sox at Comiskey Park, I.F. "Neats" Lano made a point of taking in two games in the hopes of seeing the storied slugging tandem of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. A "Century of Progress" postcard written to his son Billy and postmarked "Jul 22, 1934" reports, "Dear Billy, Saw Babe Ruth he did not play but is here think he will play Sunday. Saw Lou Gerigh (sic) hit a home Run, Dady (sic)." Little could he have known what the Sunday game would hold.

    A photocopy of the sports page of the August 2, 1934 edition of the Long Prairie, Minnesota newspaper tells the tale:

    "Mr. and Mrs. I.F. Lano and Mr. and Mrs. M.C. Sheets returned Saturday following a week's visit in Chicago where they attended the Century of Progress and incidentally witnessed the New York Yankees defeat the Chicago White Sox, a feature of the game being the return of Babe Ruth to the Yankee lineup and celebrated by the great Babe planting homerun (sic) No. 701 in the bleachers. It is rumored Mr. Lano finally got his hands on the ball and succeeded in having Mr. Ruth autograph it for his son..."

    That home run baseball, the latest of Ruth's fabled 714 ever to surface in the collecting hobby, is presented here. The OAL (Harridge) ball exhibits the solid red stitching that debuted this season after decades of patriotic red and blue, with a dark bruise on one panel likely inflicted when the ball struck ground following its long ride. A vintage notation immediately to the west reads, "Home Run #701 by Ruth, 7-22-34, Chicago." One panel further west supplies the evidence of a father's devotion to his son, a bold 8/10 black fountain pen inscription directing the special relic, "To Billy From Babe Ruth."

    If you've noted a discrepancy between our lot title and the text that follows, this is attributable to the imperfect record keeping of the time. A 2007 letter from the Chicago Tribune news research librarian to Bill Lano confirms that the publicly reported figure in 1934 had since been updated from 701 to 702. Rounding out the thick folder of documentation are the pair of July 22, 1934 Comiskey Park ticket stubs used by Mr. and Mrs. Lano that thrilling day, various paper souvenirs from the Century of Progress, and a photocopy of a 1978 newspaper article picturing eighty-two year old Neats Lano posing with the offered baseball. Lengthy documentation as noted. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Jul-Aug, 2014
    31st-1st Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
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