Some never before offered photos of Babe Ruth join a classic image of Jackie Robinson that card collectors will recognize in the newly launched RMY Auctions’ Winter catalog.
Twenty photos feature Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig or both, including some rare or fresh to the market images of Ruth both on and off the field. Among them is a 5 1/4″ x 8 1/2″ image of Ruth, taken not long after his sale from the Red Sox to Yankees had been completed. Squatting for a photographer, perhaps at spring training, the young Ruth is shown with a bat between his legs.
The photo was recently acquired from a New York newspaper archive and despite a crease and pinholes from editorial use, it remains in reasonably good condition and has been encapsulated as a Type 1.
Another Ruth photo making its auction debut points to the first use of uniform numbers on the backs of player jerseys. Dating to 1929, the photo shows Ruth, his back turned slightly to reveal his number ‘3’.
Another newspaper image, the photo caption calls the addition of numbers “an innovation in big league baseball.” It also mentions that Ruth belted his first home run of the 1929 season not long after the photo was taken, indicating it was snapped on April 18 of that year.
In addition to photos of Ruth on the playing field, the auction includes two humorous images of Ruth–one wearing what appears to be a nightgown with “Babe” on the front and other from a 1935 appearance at the Circus Society of Saints and Sinners where he’s donning a fake beard and prepares to be “showered with popcorn.”
Avid collectors of vintage cards will recognize one of the other top pieces at the top of the catalog: a 1950 Barney Stein photo of Jackie Robinson that mirrors the one used on his 1950 Bowman baseball card. The high-grade image has been rated Type 1 by PSA and is being offered for sale for the first time ever.
“This is among the top photographs of Robinson that exists and is among the top ten or twenty baseball card images of all time,” RMY states in its listing. Stein is well known as the photographic chronicler of the team’s heyday in Brooklyn. The 8×10 photo is in near perfect condition, except for the light remnants of indentation from a secretarial Robinson signature that was professionally removed. Bidding rocketed past $1,700 in the first 24 hours after the auction went live. Three other Robinson photos are part of the auction, including one from the 1951 pennant race in which Robinson was nicked by a pitch from Sal “The Barber” Maglie and is sprawled in the dirt at home plate.
In all, the auction includes more than 800 vintage sports, news and entertainment photos.
Others of note include a 1910 Nap Lajoie portrait, with a clear image of the Hall of Famer with his collar famously turned up; a triple image news photo of Mickey Mantle making a spectacular catch to help preserve Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game, a photo of Ruth, Gehrig and fellow slugger Jimmie Foxx and another of Gehrig greeting his mother at the 1927 World Series.and a rare image of basketball inventor James Naismith, dating to that same year.
The auction includes a large selection of historic baseball photographs from the 1910s to 1930s, ranging from action shots to portraits.
Bidding will take place through January 15 at RMYAuctions.com.