Babe Ruth Signed My Baseball!

Posted on April 10, 2017

by Jan C

Can’t get a ticket for Antiques Roadshow? No problem! The Toledo Lucas County Public Library (TLCPL) has resources to help you identify and value your treasures.

Just a few weeks ago, a library enthusiast called to tell us her family had an old baseball autographed by Babe Ruth. She asked for help identifying a second, faded autograph on the ball that appeared to start with the initials “T.J.” and have six letters in the last name with the last three resembling “ker.” The hunt was on.

First, we consulted p4A Antique Reference Database. TLCPL cardholders can access this great digital resource through the Research page on our website (by selecting “Antiques Research”). It includes photos of antiques and collectibles as well as descriptions and prices from sales records provided by over 140 auction houses located throughout the United States. Nearly 90% of all the information provided by p4A is unique to this database, which means much of the information cannot be obtained elsewhere – even using standard web search engines.

We looked at all the Babe Ruth autographed baseballs for a likely match. No luck.

Then, we consulted two of our library’s invaluable sports reference books, All-time Rosters of Major League Baseball Teams, by S.C. Thompson, revised by Pete Palmer, and Former Major League Teams: an Encyclopedia, by Donald D. Jones.

The Babe played from 1914 to 1935 on just three teams: the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees, and one year with the Boston Braves. So many players, but we still could not find a likely match for our second autograph.

Then, as chance would have it, our caller watched an episode of Antiques Roadshow and someone brought in a Babe Ruth autographed baseball with … an autograph that matched! It was T. J. Hickey, American League President (1917-1934). She shared this information with another family sleuth who searched the Internet and discovered that the mighty New York Yankees played an exhibition game against the Mud Hens on Sept. 13, 1928, at Swayne Field, in Toledo.

The Local History Department at Main Library referenced its newspaper archive and provided copies of articles about the game from The Toledo Blade, The Toledo Times, and The Toledo News-Bee. Prior to the game, the Babe autographed 50 baseballs that he threw to the kids in the stands. In the fourth inning, Lou Gehrig hit a towering home run that bounced into Detroit Avenue and the Babe followed with a typical Ruth swing that sent a second home run flying toward East Toledo! That was what the crowd was waiting for and they saw a lot more beside. The Mud Hens rallied in the ninth inning, but came up short, and lost by two runs. The final score was 8-6, which probably thrilled the colorful Mud Hens manager….Casey Stengel!

That’s what appraisers call “Excellent Provenance!”

Books related to Antiques and Baseball

Antiques Roadshow behind the scenes : an insider's guide to PBS's #1 weekly show / Marsha BemkoAntiques Roadshow Behind the Scenes: An Insider’s Guide to PBS’s #1 Weekly Show by Marsha Bemko

An illustrated fan’s guide shares inside information about the appraisers and producers who contribute to the popular reality series, offering insight into the mechanics behind staging Roadshow events, how people get chosen to appear on the air and what happens to featured antiques.

A history of baseball in 100 objects : a tour through the bats, balls, uniforms, awards, documents, and other artifacts that tell the story of the national pastime / Josh LeventhalA History of Baseball in 100 Objects: A Tour Through the Bats, Balls, Uniforms, Awards, Documents, and Other Artifacts that Tell the Story of the National Pastime by Josh Leventhal

A visual and historical record of the game as told through essential documents, letters, photographs, equipment, memorabilia, food and drink, merchandise and media items, and relics of popular culture, each of which represents the history and evolution of the game.

Baseball history for kids : America at bat from 1900 to today with 19 activities / Richard PanchykBaseball History for Kids: America at Bat from 1900 to Today with 19 Activities by Richard Panchyk

Baseball History for Kids is a fascinating and unique journey through the modern history of America’s favorite pastime. Kids will discover how the game has changed over the years, reading about topics such as the Dead Ball Era, World War II, segregation and integration, Bonus Babies, the Reserve Clause and Free Agency, and the Designated Hitter. Along the way, they’ll enjoy firsthand quotes and stories from more than 175 former major leaguers who were eyewitnesses to and participants in baseball’s most incredible feats and biggest moments. Readers will also get an intimate look at the game’s greatest legends, from Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige, and Ted Williams to Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Willie Mays, including insightful and amusing anecdotes from former teammates and opponents. They will gain additional insight into the game through 19 interesting activities. Children will learn how to calculate a player’s batting average and ERA, throw a palmball, design a logo for their favorite team, cook a bowl of Cracker Jack, and more. The book also includes a time line and list of books, websites, and places to visit.

This title is also available as an eBook from hoopla.

A history of American sports in 100 objects / Cait MurphyA History of American Sports in 100 Objects by Cait Murphy

Sports historian Cait Murphy brings to life one hundred meticulously selected objects that make up the history of American sports. These iconic objects include the glove that Yogi Berra used to catch the only perfect game in World Series history, the jersey Lance Armstrong wore during one of his contentious Tour de France victories, and the goggles Amelia Earhart wore in the first Women’s Air Derby. Murphy also uncovers lesser-known items, like a surfboard used by the Hawaiian royal family and the seventeenth-century bowling ball that suggests that even Puritans could have fun. Together, these objects reveal that no matter who we are, our history can be traced back to the fields, courts, and tracks across our fifty states.

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