The handwritten Babe Ruth letter and multi-signed page he sent to Hillerich & Bradsby more than 100 years ago sold at auction over the weekend. Now, we know where they’re headed.
Pete Siegel of Gotta Have It! Collectibles purchased the piece for $406,359 on behalf of Jay Baker, whose collection of historic Yankees memorabilia is on display in Naples, FL.
In addition to his handwritten note dated July 9, 1918, Ruth added six signatures at H&B’s request that was part of the company’s bat making use. Attached was the original and mailing envelope, also written entirely in the 23-year-old Ruth’s hand.
When H&B sought the endorsement of the Red Sox young star, Ruth asked for $100 for the rights to his name. The company agreed and sent him a check to complete the deal along with a request for multiple signatures it could utilize.
In his reply to company owner Frank Bradsby, Ruth wrote, “Dear Sir, Your check received and I thank you very much.” He added, “Yours Very Truly,” and signed his name, “Geo. H. Ruth,” in black fountain pen six times below the text.
All the signatures have been authenticated and graded MINT 9 by PSA.
The stationery envelope is from the “Hotel Metropole” in Chicago and carries a July 26, 1918 postmark.
According to Lelands, the letter was originally obtained directly from Hillerich & Bradsby Co. years ago and the company provided a letter of provenance.
Ruth’s signature wasn’t as much in demand as it would be beginning in 1920 when he joined the Yankees, and, as a result, most of the known Ruth signatures from this era are on either legal documents or a few Red Sox team-signed pieces.
The letter will join other historic Ruth documents and memorabilia in Baker’s remarkable collection of Yankees history, which is on display through May15.
The museum houses dozens of Ruth artifacts including his earliest known game model bat and the “Curse of the Bambino” contract, signed by Ruth and Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, who infamously sold him to the Yankees prior to the 1920 season.