This small, leather youth glove, which has been signed by Babe Ruth, Dizzy Dean, and a few other individuals in 1935, commemorates one of the most widely anticipated and historically important games in spring-training history. It also features one of the earliest Ruth signatures dating from his brief tenure with the Boston Braves. All of the individuals have signed the front of the glove in green fountain pen. Ruth's signature (grading "7") appears vertically on the thumb, while that of Dizzy Dean ("9") is located on the opposite side, written vertically just below the pinky finger. The team affiliation for both Ruth and Dean is printed next to their respective names, with Ruth's signature also followed by the year, "1935." The other individuals signing the glove are Jerry Gruenwald (Braves), Bob Brown (Cardinals), "Joe K Wood" (unknown), and one other (illegible). While the combination of the Ruth and Dean signatures on this glove all alone make it a highly desirable collectible, it is the presence of an additional notation on the front that truly distinguishes and defines its even greater historical significance. Scripted at the base of the glove, also in green fountain pen, is the date and location that this glove was signed: "St. Petersburg/Florida/Mar 20th/35." It was on that date, at St. Petersburg's Waterfront Park, that Babe Ruth faced Dizzy Dean for the first time in his career; however, to fully appreciate the significance of that meeting, one must first understand the chain of events preceding it. Dizzy Dean was never one to think before he spoke, a trait that always endeared him to the media during his career. While most of his comments tended to be boastful in nature, in the winter of 1935 he unleashed an uncharacteristically mean-spirited verbal attack on baseball's most venerable player: Babe Ruth. On February 26, 1935, the New York Yankees gave Ruth his unconditional release so that he could join the Boston Braves as player, team vice president, consultant, and assistant manager. The move sent shock waves through the sports world and that evening countless players, managers, and executives were being sought out by the press for their comments. Dizzy Dean was no exception and when reporters caught up with him while switching trains in Memphis, Tennessee, en route to Florida for spring training, he was highly opinionated when hearing of the news. In an Associated Press article that appeared in the February 27, 1935, issue of The New York Times, Dean's reaction was far from complimentary. In part: He made all his money in the American League, so why doesn't he stay there? I don't believe he [Ruth] was ever worth $80,000 a year. I don't think I am worth it and I don't believe there ever will be a player entitled to that much money for playing one season.
When told that Ruth might eventually replace manager Braves manager Bill Mckechnie, Dean became even more upset. There's one of the finest guys in the game [referring to McKechnie]. Baseball has been good to Ruth. He's made enough money. Why come over to the National League and knock a fellow like McKechnie out of a job. Ruth has made sufficient money to keep him going for life. The American League couldn't make a place for him, could they? Why don't they take care of their players? I resent Ruth coming to the National and I think practically every player in the league will feel the same way about it. You can bank on this - Ruth will take plenty of razzing from the players and there will be as many fans who will be 'on him' as well. For one, I am going to 'pan' him every time I see him in a National League park.
Dean's comments spread quickly through the baseball circles and fans anxiously awaited the first Dean vs. Ruth battle on the playing field. They would not have to wait long. Just three weeks after Dean's tirade, on March 20, the Cardinals and Braves met in a spring-training game at Waterfront Park. Dean had the start for the Cardinals and a then-record exhibition-game crowd of 6,467 overwhelmed the grounds to watch the epic battle. Once again, an Associated Press story carried by The New York Times on March 21, 1935, chronicled the event, leading with the headline "Ruth Fails to Hit Dean As Cards Score by 5-4/But Babe Drives 350-foot fly as He Faces Dizzy for First Time - Record Crowd of 6,467 Sees Braves Defeated." In part: Two magnificent but futile gestures today by Babe Ruth marked the occasion of his first duel with the renowned Dizzy Dean under circumstances unprecedented in the annals of Florida's Spring 'grapefruit league.' For the benefit of a record-breaking exhibition game crowd of 6,467 that taxed the capacity of Waterfront Park, and made ground rules necessary, the Bambino cracked out two line drives that would have been home runs in many major league grounds. . . . The fact that the world champion Cardinals, who have been in a slump and harassed by injuries, finally nosed out the Braves, 5 to 4, was entirely subordinate to the first Spring showing of the Ruth-Dean rivalry. The crowd's enthusiasm testified to the exceptional interest generated by these two National League personalities, and club owners accepted the evidence as proof the Babe is riding a new baseball boom for the benefit of all concerned. . . . The crowd jeered Dean on his first appearance at the plate, howling while he fell down missing a swing, but gave the pitching ace a big hand when he trotted over to have a friendly chat with Ruth on the Braves' bench after finishing his turn on the mound.
Given the overall good nature of both players, it's not surprising that the "feud" ended as quickly as it began, with Dean extending the proverbial "olive branch" after his stint on the mound. However, as noted in both New York Times articles (copies of which accompany the glove) the fans and media certainly enjoyed the three-week buildup to the most anticipated game in spring-training history. This glove was obviously signed by the players at that game and may be (to the best of our knowledge it is) the only Ruth and Dean signed item from that historic day. The glove itself is constructed of very thin leather and although it contains grommets on the back of the thumb and index finger for lacing, appears more in the style of a work glove. No manufacturer's name is listed. The name "Donald" is written on the wrist strap. There are a few small areas of ink stain on the front, one of which very lightly touches upon a tiny portion of the Dean signature; otherwise all of the text and signatures are clear and legible. The glove displays light wear and is in Very Good to Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $2,666
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