They had just won the pennant (by 19 games) in a 110-victory regular season. They had the game’s two best players and were the darlings of the sports pages.
The adventure was just beginning.
Babe Ruth’s manager, Christy Walsh, was looking to cash in. As the 1927 season wore on, Walsh set up a huge nationwide barnstorming tour featuring his most famous client. He needed another “captain” and Lou Gehrig was happy to pick up a nice check and see the rest of the country. Now, an original news photo from just before the launch of the famous expedition has hit the auction block.
RMY Auctions is offering the 6 ½” x 8 ½” image in its May Collectors Auction. The Underwood & Underwood photo still contains the original caption on the back, announcing the tour. Ruth, leader of the “Bustin’ Babes” and Gehrig, cleanup hitter for the “Larrupin’ Lous” pose with Walsh and several players who would take part.
The photo is dated October 12 but it’s believed the image was taken on October 8, the day the Yankees polished off a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the World Series. The tour began four days later in Trenton, NJ.
The barnstorming tour drew huge crowds with total attendance of an estimated 220,000 fans. It travelled from New Jersey to California, with 21 games played in nine states. Ruth and Gehrig traveled 8,000 miles and autographed 5,000 baseballs, according to a Nov. 11, 1927, article in the Times of Munster, Indiana. The largest crowd was 30,000 at Wrigley Field on Oct. 30 in Los Angeles.
The tour got off to a rocky start. On Oct. 13, the game in Asbury Park, New Jersey, had to be cut short in the top of the seventh inning when management ran out of baseballs. Twelve other games did not go the full nine innings, but the fans apparently did not feel shortchanged.
Several charities benefitted from the games as well, with proceeds from gate receipts even helping to build a research laboratory at a Kansas City hospital.
The photo is among several hundred up for auction through May 9 at RMYAuctions.com.