1928 Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig Signed “Bustin’ Babes and Larrupin’ Lou’s” Photo

Sold For: $17,625

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1276

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Addendum: Please note that this piece is related to the Ruth/Gehrig broadside offered in Lot 1275, as it was signed in Dayton, Ohio on the very day of the promoted game! Original photo of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, issued as a souvenir during their famous 1928 "Bustin' Babes and Larrupin' Lou's" barnstorming tour, signed by each in blue fountain pen. This is an outstanding example of the most classic of all Ruth-Gehrig signed photographs. The 8 x 10-inch photo captures the two stars posing together in their respective tour uniforms and features the facsimile signatures of both Ruth and Gehrig, as issued. The actual signatures of Ruth and Gehrig appear directly below their respective facsimile examples. The Ruth signature is the bolder of the two, grading "9/10," while Gehrig's signature grades "7/8." Ideally, we know exactly when and where this photo was signed, as the vintage black fountain pen notation below Gehrig's signature reads "Oct 25-28 at Dayton Ohio." This photo dates from the second of the two famous postseason barnstorming tours made by Ruth and Gehrig during the years 1927 and 1928. The Bustin' Babes and Larrupin' Lou's barnstorming tour was the brainchild of Christy Walsh, who was Ruth and Gehrig's longtime agent. In 1927 Walsh, in order to capitalize on the excitement generated by the duo's season-long home-run duel, arranged to have the pair tour the country right after the World Series. The tour, heralded as "Ruth vs. Gehrig - The Battle For The Home Run Title Continues," began in New York and made its away across the country, ending in California. To insure its success, Walsh wisely scheduled nearly all of the games in cities without Major League clubs, thus providing those fans with a rare opportunity to see the two stars in person. Walsh also arranged it so that Ruth and Gehrig were the only two players traveling to each town. Their respective teams at each venue were made up of local players. The tour was such a huge success (most games ended prematurely due to fans rushing onto the field to get closer to their idols) that it was repeated again in 1928 with equal fanfare. In addition to the gate revenues, one of the other main sources of income during the tour came from the sale of these special tour photos. These special photos were available for sale on the tour for $1, which was quite a sum at the time. Ruth and Gehrig, of course, were available at each barnstorming game to personally sign the photos. "Bustin' Babe and Larrupin' Lou's barnstorming photos are among the most desirable of all Ruth and Gehrig signed items, and the offered example is exceptional in terms of provenance and condition. The piece is accompanied by a letter from a former owner, Dewaine Dodds, who explains that the photo was personally obtained in 1928 by his uncle, Louis "Bill" Koogler, who was thirteen years old at time. He further relates that his uncle kept it in his sock drawer for nearly his entire life, brought out to show people only when reminiscing about his meeting Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as a youngster. When the uncle died in 1982, the autographed photo was given to Dodds as a gift by his aunt, and he kept it securely stored in his safe deposit box for the next eighteen years before parting with it at public auction in 2000. (A copy of the 2000 auction invoice accompanies; the photo has been consigned here by the purchaser at that auction.) The care taken by the family in the storage of this piece for seventy-two years is directly responsible for its pristine condition today. The photo is in spectacular Near Mint condition. It has been beautifully matted and framed, with archival materials, to total dimensions of 15 x 17 inches. This is one of the finest examples of this highly prized autographed photo we have ever seen and one that would be a highlight in even the most advanced world-class collection. An outstanding museum-quality example of the most classic of all Ruth-Gehrig signed photographs. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000+. SOLD FOR $17,625

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