On Sept. 4, 1929, Babe Ruth and the reigning World Series Champion New York Yankees traveled to Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York, from Philadelphia, where they had been swept by the World Series-bound Athletics in a three-game series. The following day, the Yankees played an exhibition game against a Sing Sing team of prisoners called the “Black Sheep.” According to The New York Times, Ruth doubled in the first inning and hit towering homers in the second, third and fifth innings. He also pitched the final two innings of the game. According to the Times’ account, Ruth’s first homer cleared the 320-foot wall in right field by some 40 feet, crossed all eight tracks of the New York Central Railroad and landed on the side of a hill, a reported 620 feet away.
While there were several final scores reported by media outlets covering the game at Sing Sing, the Times wrote that the Yankees won, 15-3. The headline in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle for Sept. 6 read: “Babe Ruth Gives Saddest Crowd of Boys in World 2 Happy Baseball Hours.” Reporter Harold Burr wrote that it was the Yankees’ first game in the “Mutual Welfare League,” but didn’t include the score. The game came shortly after the New York Giants visited the prison on Aug. 27 and won 16-3. The visits eased the tension at Sing Sing, where prison authorities were able to nip a scheduled riot in the bud in early August by confiscating a cache of weapons and ammunition.
This lot features a beautiful, hand-crafted baseball-themed wooden chest that was awarded to Ruth in 1930 following the Yankees 1929 exhibition visit to Sing Sing Prison. As the story goes, the prisoners were so enamored with Ruth’s affable nature and heroic feats with a baseball bat that they constructed the wooden chest just for him. There is no doubt that it required months of effort by the prisoners to painstakingly put it together. The double-hinged cedar chest, which measures 37” long by 19” wide by 21.5” high, even features a pair of inlaid baseball diamonds on its surface, which are labeled “Nat. League” and “Am. League,” respectively. It even includes caster ball bearings on each of its four legs for easy transport. Despite its 86-year-old age, the chest remains in remarkable condition as it has rested in the Ruth family’s possession all these years.