In ten years of hosting auctions featuring interesting and seldom-seen memorabilia, we have handled our share of unique Babe Ruth items. None, however, have been more compelling than this fascinating scrapbook. Highlighted by a Ruth-signed postcard-sized photo originally owned by none other than Babe Ruth's sister, it tells the story of New York Yankees superfan Jack Marcus, his campaign for the creation of a U.S. stamp bearing the image of Babe Ruth, and his subsequent search for Mary Moberly, the long-lost sister of Babe Ruth.
The story begins in 1980 as Marcus wrote various figures in the baseball world, campaigning for the creation of a U.S. stamp honoring Ruth. In the postscript of a response to Marcus, Baseball Hall of Fame Director Ken Smith wrote "Which reminds me, Mamie Ruth Moberly, Babe's sister lives in Lakeland, Fla."
Thus began Marcus' search to locate Moberly, ultimately leading him to the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce and the Ledger newspaper of Lakeland. As a result of Marcus' search, journalist Ray Weiss penned a September, 1980 article titled Anyone Know Mary Moberly?" Ruth's sister, a private woman living in the central Florida city, eventually was located and became pen pals with Marcus - and the subject of a September 21 article titled Babe: Babe Ruth's Only Sister Remembers Her Brother's Days of Glory."
Carefully preserved are a number of letters between Marcus and Smith discussing his search (and Smith's subsequent regret of divulging her location), the newspaper articles, and, of course, correspondence between Moberly and Marcus. The highlight of this correspondence is, of course, a 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" photo print of the Babe, signed by Ruth for his sister and later personalized on the reverse by Moberly as a gift to Marcus. Marcus shared the photo with friends in the Yankees family, and their correspondence is included as well. The entire story is preserved in a three-ring binder that does exhibit some wear from repeated reading, though the contents are carefully preserved.
In addition to the Ruth photo, the binder contains an original photo of Ruth with Moberly during a visit at Yankee Stadium, an original photo of Moberly from 1980, and correspondence from Julia Ruth Stevens (the Babe's daughter), Ken Smith of the Hall of Fame, various Lakeland, Florida figures that factored into Marcus' search, Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt, Hall of Fame broadcaster Red Barber, and others. Also included is a Lakeland Ledger article that actually pictures the signed photo Moberly gave to Marcus.
The postcard itself is well-preserved, housed in a plastic sleeve carefully set inside a scrapbook page so that both Ruth's signature and Moberly's personalization on the reverse are visible. The postcard appears to be in excellent condition, the Babe's blue fountain pen signature clear and bold.
A wonderfully interesting document of a superfan's determined search for Babe Ruth's sister, their subsequent friendship, and a signed photo of the game's greatest figure with impeccable provenance. LOA on the Ruth photo from James Spence Authentication.