1923 New York Yankees 25th Anniversary Team-Signed Reunion Ball with Babe Ruth - Signed on the Day the Yankees Retired Ruth's Number!

Sold For: $10,575

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 1282

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June 13, 1948 was a special day in New York Yankees history, for it was on that date the club celebrated the 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium. Among the highlights that day was a reunion of the 1923 Yankees team and, most important, a special ceremony in which the Yankees formally retired Babe Ruth's uniform number. That historic event marked Ruth's final appearance both in a Yankees uniform and at Yankee Stadium, as he passed away just two months later on August 16th. (Nat Fein's famous Pulitizer Prize winning photo, titled "The Babe Bows Out," was taken on this day.) This extraordinary signed baseball dates to that memorable day and features the signatures of sixteen members of the 1923 Yankees, including Babe Ruth, plus fifteen additional signatures of former New York Yankees who attended the event. The significance of this ball cannot be overstated. This is undoubtedly one of the last balls Babe Ruth ever signed. Ruth was extremely ill at the time and it is a well-known fact that he was signing very few items during the final months of his life (Ruth had a full-time secretary to handle all of his fan correspondence, and both she and his wife signed for him quite regularly in 1948). The fact that it dates both from the day in which his uniform number was retired and his last appearance in Yankee Stadium makes it one of the most remarkable Ruth balls ever to surface. We have been told (no formal documentation accompanies the ball) that this official American League (Harridge) ball originates from the estate of former New York Yankees player Jake Powell. Furthermore, the oral history accompanying the ball has it that a number of the signatures were obtained on the ball at a banquet dinner held by the Yankees the night before, and the remainder, including Ruth's, were added the next day at the Stadium. (Supposedly, the sweet spot was left untouched the night before so that Ruth could have the honor of signing the ball there the next day.) That sounds extremely plausible, especially given the fact that the ball is signed in two distinct shades of blue ink. The sixteen members of the 1923 Yankees who have signed this ball are Babe Ruth (sweet spot, grading a strong "8" slight bleeding), Waite Hoyt, Bob Meusel, Wally Pipp, Joe Dugan, Whitey Witt, Wally Schang, Joe Bush, Bob Shawkey, Carl Mays, Fred Hofmann, Elmer Smith, Mike McNally, Hinkey Haines, George Pipgras, and Oscar Roettger. The remaining fifteen signatures on the ball, all by former Yankees, are those of Lefty Gomez, Joe Sewell, Bill Dickey, Bump Hadley, Mark Koenig, Red Rolfe, Hank Borowy (sweet spot), Sam Byrd, Pat Collins, Ernie Bonham, Eddie Farrell, Myril Hoag, George Selkirk, Wilcy Moore, and Johnny Allen. There is one other signature on the ball that is partially illegible (does not appear to be that of a former Yankees player). The signatures are scripted in two different shades of ink. The eleven "dark-blue" ink signatures grade "8/9" on average, while twenty-one "light-blue" signatures, one of which is Ruth, all display some degree of light bleeding and range from "6" to "8." According to our research, the only member of the 1923 club who was present that day and did not sign this ball was Sam Jones. The other Yankees on this ball were all in attendance to both celebrate the event and also to take part in a two-inning exhibition game against the 1923 club. The ball was obviously well cared for all these years as it remains in phenomenal Near Mint condition. This is the only 1923 New York Yankees team-signed reunion ball from that landmark day that we have ever seen, let alone handled, and as such it stands as one of the most noteworthy and historically significant of all Ruth-signed balls in existence. Together with an invitation to the New York Yankees reunion dinner held the night prior, on April 12, 1948 (Gd-Vg). LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,500. Reserve $5,000++.

SOLD FOR $10,575

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