Gregarious and adored in just about all accounts, Babe Ruth competed against himself perhaps more so than he did against his often helpless opponents. Keenly aware of his amazing longball totals and what they did to inspire fans across the country, Ruth sought to out-do himself with each passing season. The 1927 campaign was the definitive endeavor for both Ruth and his unstoppable Yankees. His almost mythical mark of 60 home runs was a clear indication of his dominance, as no other American League team combined for as many! Mirroring the wonder and incredibly rare nature of Ruth’s prowess is the offered prize: an OAL Johnson ball that Ruth launched for his 12th home run of that fabled 1927 season and proceeded to autograph it for the lucky spectator who retrieved it.
Crafted by “Reach,” the sphere features alternating blue-and-red laces and trademark stampings that date specifically to 1927. The panels show amazing game use in the form of scattered surface abrasions and soiling inherent to diamond use. The earmarks are consistent with balls of this era as oftentimes a ball was kept in play for several innings. On the side panel that bears league president Ban Johnson’s facsimile signature, Ruth has signed in black-ink steel tip fountain pen. While the aforementioned abrasions intermittently interrupt portions of the scripting, the unmistakable upper-case “B” and “R” characters display like a work of art on a coveted autograph (especially so on this particular medium) that projects (“5”) strength and clarity. Just above Ruth’s signature, a period inscription of “5/28/27 – Number 12” has been executed in an unknown hand (very likely that of the fan who secured the souvenir that day).
As Ruth connected that afternoon off of Hollis “Sloppy” Thurston to fuel an 8-2 triumph over the Senators, few could fathom his torrid late-season run. In summary, 1927 belonged to Babe Ruth. On August 10, he was trailing teammate Lou Gehrig in the home run chase, 38 to 35. But from there, Gehrig managed only nine more round-trippers while Ruth went on a frightening tear. On September 30 in the second-to-last game of the season, Ruth hit number 60 down the right field line and circled the bases as victim Tom Zachary (yet another Senators hurler) pleaded “Foul Ball!” with the umpire. Twenty years later at a Yankee Stadium reunion, Ruth shook hands with Zachary and, in a voice raspy from the cancer that was killing him, said: “You crooked arm son of a bitch. Are you still claiming that ball was foul?”
Incredibly appealing as a souvenir autographed by Ruth, this treasure carries the added status as a sphere launched for one of 60 home runs by the most iconic figure in American sports during his most prolific season. Accompanying is a full photo LOA from JSA. NOTE: This item also comes with a letter of provenance from the consignor.