The family of one of Babe Ruth’s long-time friends has consigned their accumulaton of memora-Babe-lia including a bat and signed 60-homer commemorative.
Jimmy Donohue was well known among the famous folks who lived on the east coast.
For more than half a century, Donohue’s restaurants were popular establishments for New Jersey and New York VIPs. From a small tavern restaurant located at the Black Sea Hotel in New Jersey to the larger-than-life Donohue’s “A Fine Jersey Eating Place” in nearby Clifton, New Jersey, Donohue provided secluded, welcome retreats for the area’s famous patrons. Donohue became fast friends with many of them and one of the most notable and enduring bonds was with Babe Ruth.
Ruth’s frequent visits to Donohue’s restaurants began in his early Yankees days and ended just five days before the Sultan of Swat’s death. Proof of Ruth and Donohue’s genuine friendship is found in published reports, the private “King’s Room” that Donohue kept in reserve for Ruth and the many personalized items given to Donohue by Ruth, which will be spread among Mastro Auctions’ upcoming events.
COO and president Doug Allen said the family of Jimmy Donohue contacted him after seeing the heavy media coverage regarding the August sale of a PSA 5 T206 Honus Wagner.
“Fortunately, we have a diverse auction platform that serves the overall collection well by allowing individual pieces to placed in the type of sale where it will generate the best result,” said Allen. Consequently, some of the items will show up at Mastro Auctions’ Live “Legends” sale in New York, others in the company’s December and April Premier events and the balance in an upcoming Classic Collector sale.
A sampling of the highlights from the Babe Ruth collection are:
Babe Ruth 1927 Signed 60 Home Run Photo Display
Babe Ruth’s signature season was 1927. The summation of that slugging performance is demonstrated in a matted, framed display piece which measures 30" x 40".
The photo is signed "To My Pal James J. Donahue From ‘Babe’ Ruth…Oct. 10th Consuming the greater part of the display’s surface is the orderly sequence of drawn baseballs which enumerate Ruth’s 1927 home runs and identify each of the opposing pitchers who yielded them. The illustrated balls are to exact scale. Then, uniformly penned in each are the home run number, the pitcher’s last name, his team, and the pertinent date. Minimum bid $20,000.
1924 Babe Ruth Personalized Game Used Bat – PSA 10, MEARS A-10
Babe Ruth used this Hillerich & Bradsby signature model bat ably as he helped shape the New York Yankees into the game’s most formidable dynasty. Hailing from the 1922-1925 labeling period, this 36-inch, 42-ounce war club features telling attributes that place it directly in Ruth’s hands. Uncracked, the bat shows game use. While there were only slight cosmetic differences in bats made for professional use and those manufactured for retail sale, the numeric identifier was a constant on both varieties. Most popular, of course, was "125." Plain and simple, this meant that the retail cost was $1.25. Seldom seen, models whose centerbrand denoted "250" were produced by H&B. Crafted from the highest quality wood, these were truly the top of the line in terms of lumber. Minimum bid $10,000.
1931 Babe Ruth Letter to a Friend with Baseball and Beer Content
Drafted under "The Hollenden Hotel" letterhead, this is a simple communications check with his New Jersey buddy, Jimmy Donohue. It’s dated May 20, 1931. The Hollenden was a landmark in Cleveland and the Yankees and Indians were washed out on May 20th that season. Because the addressee was Jimmy Donohue, Ruth signed the letter familiarly, "Babe," and furnished his wife’s identity. Included is the matching envelope, which is postmarked and addressed to Donohue. The fountain pen signature reads "Babe and Claire". Minimum bid $4,000.
Babe Ruth Oversized Signed Batting Photo
This is an impromptu view capturing that fraction of the moment when Ruth realized that this clout would result in four bases—at a leisurely trot. The eyes track the trajectory. Signed and inscribed by Ruth specifically for his friend, Jimmy Donohue. Minimum bid $2,500.
Beautiful 1938 Claire and Babe Signed and Inscribed Photo
In the fall of 1938, Ruth took this photo in hand and used white ink to pen this heartfelt sentiment: "To Our pal / Jimmie Donohue / From Claire & Babe / Nov 28 / 1938." Minimum bid $2,500.
Babe Ruth Sterling Silver Cigarette Case
Ruth saw fit to gift Donohue with an expensive sterling silver cigarette case on Christmas Day 1925. The inscription reads: "To Jimmy Donahue / from / Babe Ruth / Dec. 25, 1925." A velvet drawstring bag accompanies the hinged case with a label from M.J. Lyons Jeweler of Passaic, New Jersey. Minimum bid $1,000.
1925 Babe Ruth Personalized Sepia Photo from Christmas Day
Jimmy received another present from Babe when Ruth autographed a photo "To My Old Pal / the best sport in the world / Jimmy Donahue / From / "Babe" Ruth / Dec 25 – 1925." Ruth employed black fountain pen to script the sentiment. This likeness bears the studio lettering, "Hartsook Photo" at the lower left corner. Minimum bid $500.
Babe Ruth 1942 Signed Letter from the Set of "Pride of the Yankees"
This one-page, signed, typewritten letter was sent by Ruth to Donohue during filming of The Pride of the Yankees, the movie based on the life of Lou Gehrig. Ruth has signed the correspondence "Babe Ruth" in black fountain pen. Before leaving for the West Coast, the Babe had spent several days in a hospital losing 40 pounds on a diet so that he would appear lighter and more trim for his film role. While at Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field, he was forced to undergo strenuous workouts, hit home runs, and run the bases for the cameras. Shortly after composing this letter, Ruth collapsed at his hotel and was diagnosed with pneumonia. He returned to work two weeks later. The letter is typed on "Samuel Goldwyn Inc., Ltd." stationery. Minimum bid $500.
Babe Ruth Signed 1934 Japan Tour Team Photo Premium
Highly publicized and equally successful (on several planes) was the Major League Tour of Japan that was performed immediately following the 1934 season. This photo appears to be a premium, and it pictures the entire complement of principals—both the Americans and the Japanese. All the participants signed the original photograph of the image. In turn, prints (such as this one) were produced to carry the autograph likenesses. With a broad-nib fountain pen, Ruth scribed, "To My good friend…Jimmie…Sincerely…Babe Ruth.” Minimum bid $500.
Mickey Mantle 1951 Hillerich & Bradsby Game Used Bat – Only Ordered In His Rookie Season – PSA 9
Conclusively, 1951 proved to be a watershed season in the annals of the Yankees mystique. It was during the course of that tumultuous 1951 season that Mickey ordered this bat: an "L16" Hillerich & Bradsby signature model weapon. 1951 is the only year Mantle would order this model lumber. The "L16" engraving found at the knob attests to the bat’s use during Mickey’s rookie year, the item turned to the specifications of bats ordered by Mantle on April 20, 1951. The 35", 35 oz. uncracked bat is made of white ash with all of the stampings deep and pronounced. Minimum bid $25,000.