Eat your heart out, Johnny Depp.
A rare Babe Ruth poster promoting his starring role in an upcoming 1920s movie will be back on the block soon.
He was bigger than life. Big enough for the big screen.
Babe Ruth was a natural when motion pictures first began to gain widespread appeal. In the 1930s and 40s, he was a popular radio guest, but before that Ruth appeared in two movies and now a poster from one of those early flicks has found its way to Heritage Auction Galleries.
It’s the second trip to the Dallas-based auction house, after selling once before for $138,000.
Produced on Vocafilm, a short-lived process used to produce early "talkies" or sound movies, "The Babe Comes Home" was produced in 1927, the same year Ruth belted a then-record 60 home runs. The movie no longer exists on any kind of film or videotape. Fortunately, not all of the 27" x 41" stone litho posters met the same fate, but it is one of just two known to have survived according to Grey Smith, Director of Vintage Movie Poster Auctions for Heritage.
"It was a pleasant romantic comedy in which Ruth, as a tobacco-chewing ballplayer, comes to the attention of Anna Q. Nilsson, who plays the laundress who cleans his uniforms," Smith said. "She attends a game he’s playing in, and gets hit in the eye with a fly ball. Naturally, the two fall in love, but they soon quarrel over his tobacco use, which causes her to walk out, and Babe to go into a hitting slump. During the crucial moment of a crucial game, she, realizing how much he means to her, throws him a plug of chew from the stands, which he stuffs in his mouth and, his spirits revitalized, proceeds to hit the game-winning home run.
The movie’s baseball sequences were filmed at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Legend has it that Ruth was so pleased with the picture that he sat through all six reels numerous times.
Babe Ruth items are always popular with the baseball memorabilia collector who faces stiff competition from others looking for rare items. The movie, too, is a part of the history of baseball. It was part of a much larger campaign to market the star athlete, as the American public couldn’t get enough of this hard-hitting, hard-living hero in his heyday.
"The poster for this landmark sports film is absolutely fabulous," Smith promised. This is Ruth at his best, at the height of his career, just as he’ll always be remembered."
Ruth’s first film appearance was in 1920, when he made "Headin’ Home", billed as the ‘true story’ of the great ballplayer.