Mastro Auctions, the world's leading Sports and Americana auction house, is announcing that it will be offering phenomenal Babe Ruth items acquired by legendary restaurateur, Jimmy Donohue. The historically significant items will be auctioned in several of Mastro Auctions' upcoming sales.
For more than half a century, Jimmy Donohue's restaurants were well-known eating establishments for New Jersey and New York VIPs. From a small tavern restaurant located at the Black Sea Hotel in New Jersey to the larger-than-life Donohue's "A Fine Jersey Eating Place" in nearby Clifton, New Jersey, Donohue provided secluded, welcome retreats for the area's most well-known residents. As a result, Donohue became fast friends with many of his famous patrons. One of the most notable and enduring bonds was with Babe Ruth.
Ruth's frequent visits to Donohue's restaurants began in his early Yankees days and ended just five days before the Sultan of Swat's death. Proof of Ruth and Donohue's genuine friendship is found in published reports, the private "King's Room" that Donohue kept in reserve for Ruth and the many personalized items given to Donohue by Ruth, which have now been entrusted to Mastro Auctions for sale.
Doug Allen, COO and president of Mastro Auctions says the family of Jimmy Donohue contacted him after seeing the heavy media coverage regarding the August sale of the record-breaking Honus Wagner card. "They wanted to make sure the prized possessions were in good hands and would be given the attention they deserved," says Allen. "We are thrilled by the opportunity to bring these fresh pieces to the collecting public."
Allen says that the items in the collection will be offered for sale in several upcoming Mastro Auctions' events. "Fortunately, we have a diverse auction platform that serves the overall collection well by allowing individual pieces to placed in the type of sale where it will generate the best result," says Allen. Consequently, Allen says that some of the items will show up at Mastro Auctions' Live "Legends" sale in New York, others in the company's December and April Premier events and the balance in an upcoming Classic Collector sale.
A sampling of the jaw-dropping highlights from the Babe Ruth collection are:
Mickey Mantle 1951 Hillerich & Bradsby Game Used Bat – Only Ordered In His Rookie Season – PSA 9
Conclusively, 1951 proved to be a watershed season in the annals of the Yankees mystique. It was during the course of that tumultuous 1951 season that Mickey ordered this bat: an "L16" Hillerich & Bradsby signature model weapon. 1951 is the only year Mantle would order this model lumber. The "L16" engraving found at the knob attests to the bat's use during Mickey's rookie year, the item turned to the specifications of bats ordered by Mantle on April 20, 1951. This potent 35", 35 oz. monster is composed of top grade white ash with all of the stampings deep and pronounced. Uncracked, the item exhibits signs of excellent use. Minimum bid $25,000.
Babe Ruth 1927 Signed 60 Home Run Photo Display
Babe Ruth's signature season was 1927. The summation of that slugging performance is emphatically demonstrated in this unique display. Matted and framed, this colossal piece measures 30" x 40". The action photograph is flawless. With the personalized salutation, "To My Pal James J. Donahue From 'Babe' Ruth...Oct. 10th 1927," it is obvious that this was no idle gratituity. Consuming the greater part of the display's surface is the orderly sequence of drawn baseballs which enumerate Ruth's 1927 home runs and identify each of the opposing pitchers who yielded them. The illustrated balls are to exact scale. Then, uniformly penned in each are the home run number, the pitcher's last name, his team, and the pertinent date. Minimum bid $20,000.
1924 Babe Ruth Personalized Game Used Bat – PSA 10, MEARS A-10
Babe Ruth used this Hillerich & Bradsby signature model bat ably as he helped shape the New York Yankees into the game's most formidable dynasty. Hailing from the 1922-1925 labeling period, this 36-inch, 42-ounce war club features telling attributes that place it directly in Ruth's hands. Uncracked, the lumber shows evidence of outstanding game use, all of which are consistent with Ruth's gamers. While there were only slight cosmetic differences in bats made for professional use and those manufactured for retail sale, the numeric identifier was a constant on both varieties. Most popular, of course, was "125." Plain and simple, this meant that the retail cost was $1.25. Seldom seen, models whose centerbrand denoted "250" were produced by the Kentucky-based bat giant. Crafted from the highest quality wood, these were truly the top of the line in terms of lumber. Minimum bid $10,000.
1931 Babe Ruth Letter to a Friend with Incredible Baseball and Beer Content!
Drafted under "The Hollenden Hotel" letterhead, this is a simple communications check with his New Jersey buddy, Jimmy Donohue. It's dated May 20, 1931. The Hollenden was a landmark in Cleveland and the Yankees and Indians were washed out on May 20th that season. Because the addressee was Jimmy Donohue, Ruth signed the letter familiarly, "Babe," and furnished his wife's identity. Included is the matching envelope, which is postmarked and addressed to Donohue. The fountain pen signing, "Babe and Claire," is magnificent. Minimum bid $4,000.
Babe Ruth Oversized Signed Batting Photo
This is an impromptu view capturing that fraction of the moment when Ruth realized that this clout would result in four bases -- at a leisurely trot. The eyes track the trajectory. The countenance affirms the destination. By virtue of its condition and the iconic subject in his most defining instant, this photo would be a collector's treasure in itself. This one, however, was signed and inscribed by Ruth specifically for his dear friend, Jimmy Donohue. Cleanly scribed, the writing and its signature are "8" in strength. Minimum bid $2,500.
Beautiful 1938 Claire and Babe Signed and Inscribed Photo
A portrait this personal... this intimate... rightfully belonged on Babe Ruth's mantle or boudoir dresser. It's a magnificent, sepia image of one George Herman "Babe" Ruth and his wife, Claire. There's no denying that Ruth loved life... but this image proves that he loved his wife, too. In time, Ruth felt compelled to bequeath it to a man he often called "a real pal" -- restaurant owner Jimmy Donohue. In the fall of 1938, Ruth took this photo in hand and used white ink to pen this heartfelt sentiment: "To Our pal / Jimmie Donohue / From Claire & Babe / Nov 28 / 1938." His scripting projects "10" in strength. Minimum bid $2,500.
Babe Ruth Sterling Silver Cigarette Case -- A Gift to a Friend
The year was 1925 and Babe Ruth saw fit to gift Jimmy Donohue restaurateur with an incredible sterling silver cigarette case. One can only imagine the excitement as Donohue unwrapped this treasure for the first time and saw the monogrammed "D" at the upper left corner of the cover, then read the engraved inscription: "To Jimmy Donahue / from / Babe Ruth / Dec. 25, 1925." (Despite Ruth's fondness for the man -- Donohue was one of Ruth's closest friends for decades -- the New York Yankee icon often misspelled Donohue's last name, substituting an "a" for an "o" as seen here.) This hinged cigarette case is a remarkably well-kept survivor. A velvet drawstring bag accompanies it with a label from M.J. Lyons Jeweler of Passaic, New Jersey. Minimum bid $1,000.
1925 Babe Ruth Personalized Photo from Christmas Day
Babe Ruth looks happy in his tuxedo in this exquisite sepia portrait. With that unmistakable handwriting, Ruth took advantage of a large portion of the image's lower right corner to sign, "To My Old Pal / the best sport in the world / Jimmy Donahue / From / "Babe" Ruth / Dec 25 -- 1925." The "Sultan of Swat" employed black fountain pen to script the sentiment. This likeness bears the studio lettering, "Hartsook Photo" at the lower left corner. Minimum bid $500.
Babe Ruth 1942 Signed Letter from the Set of "Pride of the Yankees"
This one-page, signed, typewritten letter was sent by Ruth to Jimmy Donohue during filming of The Pride of the Yankees, the movie based on the life of Lou Gehrig. Ruth has signed the correspondence "Babe Ruth" ("9") in black fountain pen. Before leaving for the West Coast, the Babe had spent several days in a hospital losing 40 pounds on a diet so that he would appear lighter and more trim for his film role. While at Los Angeles' Wrigley Field, he was forced to undergo strenuous workouts, hit home runs, and run the bases for the cameras. Shortly after composing this letter, Ruth collapsed at his hotel and was diagnosed with pneumonia. He returned to work two weeks later. The letter is typed on "Samuel Goldwyn Inc., Ltd." stationery. Minimum bid $500.
Babe Ruth Signed 1934 Japan Tour Team Photo Premium
Highly publicized and equally successful (on several planes) was the Major League Tour of Japan that was performed immediately following the 1934 season. This photo appears to be a premium, and it pictures the entire complement of principals -- both the Americans and the Japanese. All the participants signed the original photograph of the image. In turn, prints (such as this one) were produced to carry the autograph likenesses. The central import of this one, however, is that it was signed by Babe Ruth and it was once maintained in his careful custody. With a broad-nib fountain pen, Ruth scribed, "To My good friend...Jimmie...Sincerely...Babe Ruth." Minimum bid $500.
For more information on the Babe Ruth collection or to find out what items are being auctioned in which Mastro Auctions' sales events, call 630-472-1200 or go to www.mastroauctions.com.
About Mastro Auctions
Mastro Auctions, of Burr Ridge, Illinois, is part of the Silkroad Equity family of companies. The firm is the nation's leading high-value collectibles auction company. The company has been involved in the sale of many of the most famous and valuable Sports and Americana collectibles ever publicly offered, including the most expensive baseball card ever sold at public auction (a 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner for $1.62 million), the most expensive baseball card set (1914 Cracker Jack, $960,000), and the bat Babe Ruth used to hit his first home run in Yankee Stadium ($1.2 million). Mastro Auctions also sold Norman Rockwell's "The Dugout" original oil painting ($355,000), Roger Maris' 1961 jersey (worn when he hit home run #61, $302,000), the bus Rosa Parks was riding when she refused to stand for segregation (nearly $500,000) and the famous Steve Bartman Cubs foul ball (more than $100,000). For more information, call Mastro Auctions at 630-472-1200 or go to www.mastroauctions.com.