Babe Ruth’s complete 1934 Tour of Japan uniform is now back in one collection and Little Leaguers around the world are among the first to get a look at it.
The jersey, pants and stirrups Ruth wore during the famous barnstorming tour were loaned to the Little League Museum in Williamsport, PA in 2013. Now, the cap donned by The Babe has been added, thanks to the generosity of a collector who won it in an auction last year.
The 1934 Japan barnstorming tour sent Ruth and 13 other Major Leaguers including Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx to Japan, where they helped strengthen the sport. Eventually, Little League came to Asia.
The same buyer who bought the cap for more than $303,000 last December had donated the jersey, pants and socks in 2013.
“We were in the process of gutting the museum and trying to figure out what should go into it and a gentleman who collects baseball memorabilia called us and said he was about to acquire the 1934 Babe Ruth uniform that he wore on a tour of Japan and if that we would like to exhibit it in our museum,” said Van Auken.
“The hat and the uniform have been separated from each other for more than a half a century, but (the cap) was coming up for auction,” said Van Auken. “He was able to acquire it and asked us if we would like to add it to the exhibit. Now, there are no more existing pieces to that uniform.”
“The uniform itself, even without the hat, is the most complete Babe Ruth game worn uniform in the world,” said Van Auken. “There are only five or six jerseys that Babe Ruth wore while he played baseball in the world and we have one of them so we are really proud of that.”
Also on display in the case with the uniform is a vintage wooden bat from the 1950s and a baseball from the 1920s that has a personal connection to the town of Williamsport. The bat is one of the earliest models that carried the Little League name on it. Also on the lumbered piece of history is a picture of the man whose uniform is in the same display. The ball has Ruth’s signature on it. The signature, though, is not what makes the ball special to Williamsport.
“When Babe Ruth came to our area on another barnstorming tour, he hit (that) ball well over 500 feet at a ballfield here at Williamsport that doesn’t exist anymore,” said Van Auken. “Somebody got the ball and got him to sign it and made its way through different owners and it was gifted to the Little League Museum. It was never on display until the museum reopened in June of 2013.”