It’s just sitting there in homes across North America. Incredibly valuable pieces of sports history no one knows about. Any dealer who tells you “all of the good stuff has been found” isn’t paying attention. More proof came Sunday when an autographed Babe Ruth bat, likely worth well into six figures, was brought to the Hunt Auctions Appraisal Fair ahead of Tuesday’s MLB FanFest Auction in Cincinnati. It won’t be sold quite that quickly, however. The bat is expected to become the centerpiece of the annual Louisville Slugger Factory & Museum Auction later this year.
The bat had been signed by Ruth almost exactly 90 years to the day before it was shown to Hunt representatives inside the Duke Energy Center, site of this year’s FanFest. The bat’s original recipient was the former Mayor of Chicago, William E. Dever. The Louisville Slugger appears virtually untouched since that day.
Measuring 36” in length, the bat is signed and inscribed on the barrel, “To My Friend William Dever From “Babe” Ruth July 11, 1925”. Auction officials say the signature and salutation in black fountain pen rate is virtually perfect. They say the bat was at some point given to Edna Fry, a woman who worked in Chicago City Hall with Mayor Dever and has descended within her family until they opted to turn it over for auction.
“We could not be more thrilled to have been afforded the opportunity to announce the discovery of this Babe Ruth signed game bat,” said David Hunt, President, Hunt Auctions. “Uncovering such previously unknown artifacts is exceedingly rare. This particular Babe Ruth bat ranks as one of the finest we have encountered in our 24-year company history. We were elated to relay the enormous value of the bat with the owner and are looking forward to seeing the results when it crosses the auction block later this fall.”
The story could get better. In true ‘Ruthian’ style, the Yankees were playing the White Sox in Chicagoi on July 11, 1925 and the Babe hammered the game winning home run that day. Research is ongoing, but initial findings indicate the bat Ruth signed may well have been the one he used to beat the Sox.
No pre-sale estimate has yet been established but it will surely realize multiple six figures.
“Dave Hunt and his team have done it again,” stated Anne Jewell, Vice President and Executive Director of the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. “That bat was made in our factory. We can’t wait to welcome it home again and watch a lucky new owner win an exciting bidding war for it.”
The bat will be on display at FanFest through Tuesday and also at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago from July 29-August 2.