Spring Premier Auction 2014

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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/18/2014
Folklore has it that in 1923 the Yankees built their mammoth new stadium to accommodate all the fans who wanted to see Babe Ruth’s prodigious home run hitting. Unrivaled in its grandeur, Yankee Stadium was a concrete and steel monument to the home run. On April 18th, 1923, in the first game ever played on its virgin soil, Babe Ruth did what only he could do, sending the expectant crowd into a frenzy by smashing the first home run in Yankee Stadium history, and incidentally, defeating the rival Red Sox. Twenty five years later, on June 13th, 1948 he set foot in “The House That Ruth Built” for the last time. In the 25-year span between those two momentous occasions, a legacy was made unlike any in the history of sport.

Two months prior to his passing, Babe Ruth returned to Yankee Stadium one last time on June 13th, 1948 as part of the 25th anniversary of the opening of “The House That Ruth Built”. Culminating the event, the Yankees ceremoniously retired Babe Ruth's number 3. One by one, his old friends and former teammates, including those from his first championship team in 1923, were introduced to the nostalgic cheers of the capacity crowd. Finally, announcer Mel Allen’s voice boomed from the loudspeakers, “Ladies and Gentleman, George Herman Ruth…Babe Ruth!” Amidst a raucous ovation, the weakened Ruth, frail and ailing with throat cancer, stepped for the last time onto the infield grass, bat in hand, into “the cauldron of sound he must have known better than any other man.” Draped in his old uniform, he struggled forward, helped by the support of the bat borrowed from Bob Feller, to address the crowd of 49,647 as they showered their hero with one final roar of affection and an ebullient singing of “Auld Lang Syne”. Nat Fein, a Press Photographer for the New York Herald Tribune, immortalized the moment with a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph that endures as perhaps the most famous image in sports history, titled “The Babe Bows Out”. Ruth stepped to a cluster of microphones near home plate. Surgery had damaged his larynx, transforming the sound of his once exuberant voice into a smoky rasp. “Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen," the Babe’s strained address echoed. "You know how bad my voice sounds. Well, it feels just as bad. You know this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you've been a boy, and grow up to know how to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing themselves today in our national pastime." When the ceremonies finally ended and the media and old-timers gathered in the locker room, Joe Dugan poured a beer for the Babe. "So,” Joe asked, "How are you?" The Babe replied, "Joe, I'm gone," and then began to cry.

As part of the June 13th, 1948 celebration, the Yankees honored their greatest hero by presenting him with this gold watch. The 14 karat gold Longines pocket watch features engravings on the back that read, “Babe Ruth – Silver Anniversary – Yankee Stadium 1923-1948 The House That Ruth Built.” It has been flawlessly maintained in fine working order.

The Babe passed away on August 16, 1948. He was 53 years old. A national treasure was lost. Since that day the Babe’s watch has been preserved as a cherished heirloom by Ruth’s family. The watch is the most significant item among only a few mementos from Ruth’s career that his family has retained. It is well-documented that the vast majority of Babe’s personal memorabilia was gifted, at Ruth’s consent, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame shortly after his passing. This watch is the only significant Babe Ruth artifact ever offered to the public with direct Ruth family provenance. It is an honor for SCP Auctions to present this monumental treasure to the public. It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of this item. It represents the 25th Anniversary of Yankee Stadium - baseball’s grandest cathedral, the 25th Anniversary of the Yankees first World Championship, the retirement of Ruth’s iconic number, and Ruth’s final appearance and emotional farewell to his beloved fans. In a way, the watch could be perceived as Babe Ruth’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Yankees. We know of no object of finer testament to the greatest star the game has ever known.

Includes a Letter of Authenticity from a Ruth family member.

Bidding
Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $50,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $650,108
Number Bids: 24
Auction closed on Sunday, May 18, 2014.
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