Laguna Niguel, CA. - SportsCards Plus, one of the premier auctioneers and retailers of top quality vintage cards and sports memorabilia, has the collecting community buzzing with a discovery of "Ruthian" proportions. After resting undisturbed for nearly 80 years, the company has unearthed the bat used by Babe Ruth to hit the first home run in Yankee Stadium on its opening day of April 18th, 1923. Known as "The House That Ruth Built," the most revered venue in sports, Yankee Stadium opened amidst great fanfare with a game against the Boston Red Sox that historic day.
An unprecedented crowd of 74,000 were on hand with nearly 25,000 more fans being turned away at the gates. All eyes were on the great Bambino, who upon emerging from the clubhouse and taking the field for the first time, proclaimed "This is some ball yard!" Prior to the game, Ruth set the stage for one of the most dramatic moments in sports history with his famous quote, "I'd give a year of my life if I could hit a home run on opening day of this great new park." In the third inning, Ruth, true to form, gave the fans and the rest of the world exactly what they wanted with a blistering line drive shot into the right field bleachers. The jubilant crowd erupted as Ruth rounded the bases, completing the baptism of Yankee Stadium in storybook fashion.
Ruth's bat, used to hit the historic home run, was secured by The Los Angeles Evening Herald newspaper to be awarded as the top prize in a high school home run hitting contest in 1923. Ruth, always generous to kids and eager to encourage young ball players, sent the bat to Los Angeles in care of the newspaper. Before it was sent, the Babe inscribed the bat, "To the Boy Home Run King of Los Angeles 'Babe' Ruth, N.Y. May 7th, 1923." The autographed home run bat was presented to the winner of the highly publicized contest and has been carefully preserved for more than three-quarters of a century.
SportsCards Plus has recently acquired the bat and displayed it publicly for the first time at the National Sports Collectors Convention held in Rosemont, IL. on August 12. Company President David Kohler stated, "People are simply awe-struck when they lay their eyes upon [the bat]. It is simply the finest piece of sports memorabilia in the world." Many of the top authenticators in the field examined the piece at the show. According to Kohler, "It's unanimous. The authenticity, provenance, and condition are beyond reproach. Virtually everyone who sees it is simply blown away, not only by the mere existence of the bat, but also by it's an incredible beauty. It has a definite aura about it."
Since the public debut at the Convention, the value of the bat has been a hotly debated topic. The company has decided to settle the debate by taking the bat to the auction block sometime later this year. According to SportsCards Plus officials, the company received multiple record setting offers. Auction Director Dan Imler stated, "It is hard to put a value on an item of such singular importance. Ruth was a man of mythic proportions. More than any other athlete, he transcended sports, achieving a nearly unrivaled status as an American icon.
"This bat, the ultimate tool of his trade, is the finest sports artifact we'll see in our lifetime. A public auction is the most appropriate avenue for its sale." Company representatives also expressed their regard as the bat being the ultimate symbol of the most hallowed place in sports. Yankee Stadium is the place where Babe Ruth invented power hitting, a New York landmark where records are set and broken. "The House That Ruth Built" has been the home of 25 championship teams and 98 World Series games in the 20th century. Well over a quarter of the World Series match-ups ever held have been won by the Yankees. The rich history of Yankee Stadium still grips every visitor who walks through the turnstile.
The date of the auction has yet to be determined, but the anticipation is sure to be tremendous. For more information on the Babe Ruth bat, SportsCards Plus, and their auctions please visit www.sportscardsplus.com or call 1-800-350-2273.