Circa 1927 Babe Ruth Twice-Signed Autograph-Request Letter

Sold For: $7,638

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1027

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Two flawless Babe Ruth signatures by the fabled "Sultan of Swat," appear here on this undated fan letter sent to Ruth sometime during the 1920s. The one-page letter, scripted in pencil on Hotel Charles (Springfield, Massachusetts) stationery, was written to Ruth by an unidentified fan who asks him to answer three questions. The letter reads as follows: "Dear Mr. Ruth - I like the way you hit home runs. Could you answer my questions? What is your real full name." Here Ruth replies "George H. Ruth" in black fountain pen (grading "10"). The next question is "What is your wife name" Ruth has left this answer blank. The final question is notable both for its content and helping to date the letter: "When are you going to hit 60 Home Runs?" While the year "1927" is written in the space provided, it is the opinion of JSA that this answer was also originally left blank by Ruth, and filled in by the recipient after the fact (as opposed to in Ruth's hand). Along the base the fan has one last request of Ruth: "Please autograph and return." Ruth has complied once again by scripting his name, "Babe Ruth," in black fountain pen (grading "10.") Ruth, of course, did indeed hit a record 60 home runs in 1927. Prior to 1927, Ruth was already the current record holder for home runs with 59, which is no doubt why the writer chose the number "60" in his or her query. Although the letter is undated, based on the question relating to 60 home runs, it is a virtual certainty that this letter was therefore written just prior to or during the 1927 season. The fact that Ruth left question two blank is consistent with JSA's opinion that the 60 home runs question was also originally left blank by Ruth. The unanswered question number two asking his wife's name, however, may have an additional great significance all by itself. Ruth married Helen Woodford in 1914, but by the early 1920s the couple had become estranged and were basically separated, with Helen living in Massachusetts with their adopted daughter, and Ruth living alone in New York. (Ruth's strict Catholic upbringing forbade him from seeking a divorce.) Ruth was actually dating the woman who would become his second wife, Claire Hodgson, during the mid 1920s. (Helen died in 1929 and Ruth married Claire shortly afterwards.) Therefore, Ruth probably felt it was not appropriate to list Helen as his wife at the time. This is an extraordinary Ruth signed piece, both for the two high-grade signatures variations, and for the interesting form in which they are presented. The letter (6 x 9 inches) displays three horizontal mailing folds and is otherwise in Near Mint condition. Mounted and framed to total dimensions of 11 x 14 inches. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $7,638

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