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1920-1922 New York Yankees and New York Giants Photo Album (62 Unique Photos, 26 with Ruth)
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $2,233
Addendum. Please Note: In the original catalog description, we state that this album includes a photo of Ruth hitting his 50th home run of the year in 1920. That is incorrect. The album features a photo of Ruth hitting his 51st home run in 1920. However, there is a photo of Ruth circling the bases after his 50th home run and another photo of him crossing home plate after his 50th home run.
This extraordinary baseball photo album features sixty-two snapshot photos taken at New York's Polo Grounds between the years 1920 and 1922 that were saved for posterity by one anonymous fan who had the foresight to realize their true value. Incredibly, twenty-six of the photos picture Babe Ruth, including one of Ruth hitting his fifty-first home run in 1920. Taken from the stands at various locations, the photos capture the action from three different perspectives: field level behind the third base dugout, the upper deck behind first base, and the right-field bleachers. The perspective of the photos is secondary, however, to the haunting images which they present: Babe Ruth at the plate, Ruth hitting his fifty-first home run in 1920, Ruth trotting around the bases after his fiftieth home run in 1920, Ruth chasing down a ball in the outfield, Ty Cobb running to first base, Cobb crossing the plate, Nick Altrock clowning around on the sidelines before a game, Carl Mays on the mound in mid pitch with his unusual submarine delivery beautifully captured, Bob Muesel sliding into second on a steal attempt, Harry Heilman swinging through a Waite Hoyt fastball, Frankie Frisch sliding headfirst into home, Ed Roush crossing the plate after a home run, Ross Youngs sliding into home, George Kelly sliding head first into third, Dave Bancroft crossing the plate, Joe Sewell grounding into a force out, Stan Covelski on the mound pitching to Ruth, Joe Wood catching a fly ball in center field and Tris Speaker at the plate. Those and many other wonderful images practically come to life on the pages of this album and offer us a compelling depiction of what the game of baseball was like at the dawn of the live-ball era. One of the most intriguing details noticed in these rare photos is the black armbands worn by the Yankee players in 1920. They were most likely worn not for a Yankee team member but in remembrance of Ray Chapman who was killed by a pitched ball at the hands of Yankee pitcher Carl Mays on August 16th of that year at the Polo Grounds. Mays came under tremendous scrutiny following the incident as it was highly rumored that he was "gunning" for Chapman that day. The armbands were probably a goodwill gesture on the part of the Yankees to help quell the acrimony exhibited by the Indians and general public at the time. That theory is all the more likely since the Washington uniforms don't feature the armband as well. These photos are uniquely different from those normally found from the period. None of the shots are posed. The viewer is not simply looking at a photo, he is instantly back in the early 1920's, sitting in an old wooden seat at the Polo Grounds, seeing sights and players he has only read about in books or heard stories told of by relatives long since passed. The viewing of these images is more an emotional experience than a physical process. Here is what the field looked like (most playground fields today are in better condition), what the advertisements on the fences read, how the shadows fell across the diamond, what the reactions of the players and coaches were to a hit, an out, or a home run. Not surprisingly, of the sixty-two photos included in the album twenty-six feature Babe Ruth. It was exactly during this time that Ruth was becoming the greatest star in the history of the sport. When Ruth hit his fiftieth home run in 1920 he was accomplishing a feat that no one had previously thought possible. Indeed, the previous record was twenty-nine, set by him the year before. His prodigious home runs not only packed the ballparks but also helped the country forget the infamous World Series scandal of 1919 and in many ways Ruth can be credited with saving the game of baseball at the time. It is extremely difficult to express in words the quality of the many splendid images contained within this album; they truly must be seen to be fully appreciated. Remarkably, all of the images are crystal clear and in some instances one can actually see the ball in mid flight as it leaves an infielder's hand. The collection captures a total of four different games at the Polo Grounds: Washington vs. Yankees on 9/24/20 (eighteen photos); Detroit vs. Yankees on 9/18/21 (fourteen photos); Cleveland vs. Yankees on 9/23/21 (fifteen photos); and Cincinnati vs. Giants on 9/19/20 (nine photos). Also included are six photos depicting pre-game batting practice prior to the second game of the 1922 World Series. Three of the photos picture Ruth at the plate and the other three picture Heine Groh. All of the photos, measuring approximately 5 1/2 x 3 1/4", are mounted to the pages of the album by means of glue. Detailed captions, neatly printed in white lettering, are featured below each photo. The album pages are unbound, with each measuring 15 1/2" x 11". One of the album pages, featuring one photo, has been irregularly trimmed. Aside from the mounting process, each of the photos is in Mint condition. The album pages are in Very Good to Excellent condition overall. A marvelous and unique visit back to the beginnings of the live-ball era and a decade which saw the emergence of the game's greatest star: Babe Ruth. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,233
(Click the smaller thumbnails to the left and right (if any) to cycle through each photo in the gallery of images for this lot.)