First ball Babe Ruth hit out of Yankee Stadium up for auction

Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:21pm EDT
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By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - The first baseball whacked over the fence at Yankee Stadium by legendary home run king Babe Ruth goes on auction on Saturday in his home town of Baltimore, part of a celebration marking the 100th anniversary of his storied major league career.

The unofficial home run ball, which bears Ruth's autograph, was slugged during a batting practice session before empty bleachers and a snow-covered outfield two months before the stadium officially opened in the spring of 1923.

“I would expect it to approach or pass seven figures,” said Ken Goldin, president of Goldin Auctions, which is selling 126 pieces tied to Ruth to celebrate the anniversary.

“Mark McGuire’s 70th home run ball sold for $3 million ... and that’s lost some of its luster,” he said, referring to the performance enhancing drug controversies surrounding modern day sluggers.

Ruth made his Major League debut on July 11, 1914, pitching for the Boston Red Sox at their home field, Fenway Park. He later joined the Yankees where he achieved his greatest fame as a hitter, including crushing Yankee stadium's first official home run when it opened in 1923.

The authenticity of the scarred, sepia-colored baseball was vetted by experts, said Goldin.

New York Daily News reporter Marshall Hunt allegedly coaxed Ruth out of his hotel and into the new stadium to hit a few practice balls as construction neared completion. One of them landed in the stands.

The ball’s current owner, Joel Platt, owner of Sports Immortals Museum in Boca Raton, Florida, has had it for six decades. He first learned of its existence in the 1950s when it belonged to the family of the construction worker who collected it from the stands and brought it down to the field for Ruth to sign.   Continued...

A baseball, hit by legendary New York Yankees baseball player Babe Ruth into the stands at a newly constructed Yankee Stadium in 1923, is pictured in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Sports Immortals Museum/Handout via Reuters