Lot # 1: 1918-1921 Babe Ruth (HOF) Game-Used Bat - PSA/DNA GU 7

Category: Featured Items

Starting Bid: $30,000.00

Bids: 10 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Spring, 2024 Premier Auction",
which ran from 3/11/2024 12:00 AM to
3/30/2024 9:00 PM

Perhaps no piece of sports equipment is more closely associated with a player than a bat is with the great Babe Ruth.  Even in editions of the Boston Globe from before the 1918 season, when Ruth was purely a pitcher, articles made reference to the Babe's batting practice home runs as he entertained teammates and fans with his colossal clouts.  By 1919 Ruth's batting exploits were such that his role as a pitcher became secondary; he led the league in home runs and runs batted in despite starting 15 games on the mound. By his 1920 trade to the Yankees, he was a celebrity, and his notoriety only increased from there.  Even today he remains arguably the most famous and beloved figure in American sports, and those bats - the tools of the hitting giant - are among the most highly coveted pieces of sports memorabilia.

Presented here is a gorgeous Louisville Slugger model 250 from early in Ruth's career, the labeling period dating between 1918 and 1921.  The bone-rubbed ash bat measures 34.75" and weighs in at 36.9 ounces (the bat would likely appear as a 35", 40 ounce bat on a Player Ordering Record, were one available), with a slight handle crack and a moderate coat of pine tar.  The bat is side-written in vintage grease pencil, with a factory return date of 7-24-23.  Up until the 1940s it was commonplace for players to send their preferred bats back to the factory, to request more of the same type.  Though side-written bats are considered to be impeccable provenance, in this case, the player's name is not visible.

Though the bat is approximately one inch shorter and between 3 and 10 ounces lighter than other bats appearing on Ruth's documented ordering record after 1920, Ruth did use 35" bats during his career.  Ordering records prior to 1920 are very incomplete, and there are no records of specific lengths and weights of bats ordered by Ruth in 1918 and 1919.  However, the bat does exhibit several characteristics consistent with game use by Ruth: First, the handle has been scored to enhance the grip, a characteristic noted on many Babe Ruth game-used bats.  Second, there are many ball marks and stitch marks on the left and back barrel.  It is well-known that Ruth batted with the centerbrand facing downward, so ball and stitch marks on Ruth bats appear on the left barrel.  Additionally, it should be noted that Hillerich & Bradsby player ordering records indicate that Ruth ordered "Bone Rubbed" bats with the "250 finish" as early as 1920.

The bat has been examined by John Taube of PSA/DNA and assigned a grade of GU 7, acknowledging the possibility that the bat was a team-ordered or index bat, but simultaneously stating the opinion that the bat was used by Ruth between 1918 and 1920, with medium to heavy signs of use and identifiable player use characteristics (the scoring, location of ball and stitch marks, and "Bone Rubbed" and "250 finish" features).

This incredible artifact was, until recently, kept on display at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore, MD for many years in a climate-controlled environment with a number of other important game-used relics.  Wonderfully balanced, a war club by today's standards, the bat remains in outstanding condition, with very little indication of dead wood or checking, the handle crack barely visible.  A tremendous and historically significant item, quite literally a museum piece.  Full LOA from John Taube of PSA/DNA.


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