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1925 Babe Ruth Signed Dumbbell - Inscribed to Artie McGovern
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $2,963
This wooden dumbbell, signed by Babe Ruth on one of the rounded ends, is not only an extremely unusual signed Ruth piece, but one that directly relates to the turning point of his career. The dumbbell is inscribed in black fountain pen, "To Artie - Sincerely Babe Ruth." Although the rounded wooden end makes for a less-than-ideal writing surface, Ruth's inscription and signature are easily legible and grade "6/7" overall. The "Artie" to whom this dumbbell is inscribed is Artie McGovern, who ran an exclusive Madison Avenue gym in New York City during the 1920s. McGovern catered to an upscale clientele and in the winter of 1925 Ruth came to him in desperation. Ruth had just endured the worst season of his career and it was apparent to all that his years of carousing and overindulgent behavior had finally caught up with him. He missed a combined fifty-six games in 1925 due to injury and suspension, and his 25 home runs and 66 RBI represented his lowest totals since becoming a full-time outfielder. After meeting Ruth for the first time, McGovern later commented, "Ruth weighed 254 pounds. His blood pressure was low and his pulse was high. He was as near to being a total loss as any patient I have ever had under my care. His stomach had gone back on him completely. His eyes had been affected. The slightest exertion left him short of breath. His muscles were soft and flabby.” McGovern put Ruth on an extremely regimented program of diet and exercise that in six weeks resulted in Babe losing forty-four pounds and his resting pulse rate going from ninety-two to seventy-eight. The transformation was dramatic and Ruth went on to lead the league in both home runs (47) and RBI (147) the following season (1926), setting the stage for Ruth's historic 1927 season. Ruth always credited McGovern for saving his career and he annually returned to McGovern's gym each off-season to stay in shape. This dumbbell was obviously presented to McGovern in appreciation for all his help and represents a remarkable Ruth signed item directly relating to one of the key turning points of his career. The dumbbell is accompanied by a non-vintage 8 x 10-inch photo of Ruth posing in McGovern's gym that, ideally, pictures a row of identical-style wooden dumbbells hanging on the wall behind him. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $2,963
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