March 2015 Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 3/20/2015
Aside from the T206 Honus Wagner and arguably a handful of other examples created over the 150+ years of baseball history, there is no more significant baseball card to define a collection in terms of world class ranking than the 1916 M101-4 Babe Ruth rookie card. Only a few years after tobacco companies largely discontinued the practice of distributing baseball cards as a means to sell their goods, Chicago-based printer Felix Mendelsohn created an alternative, producing a far superior product using state of the art photography. Rather than offer his collection directly to the general public, Mendelsohn marketed them as collectible business cards, leaving the backs blank for any company who utilized his services to add whatever advertising they desired. Originally promoting his concept in The Sporting News, Mendelsohn signed on several companies with his largest client being, ironically, The Sporting News. While many of his subjects in the collection were well-established as the greatest players of the game, the most important pasteboard from the series would be a pitcher from the Boston Red Sox whose legendary status would not be realized on the mound ... or in Boston. Despite appearing for the first time on pasteboard in a major league uniform, Babe Ruth was far from unknown by season's end, completing the campaign with a 23-12 record while leading the league with a 1.75 ERA and becoming the hero of Game 2 of the 1916 World Series, pitching 14 innings and giving up just one run for the win. Not too shabby for a 21-year old southpaw just two years removed from a reformatory. But with names like Cobb, Wagner, Jackson, Johnson and Alexander headlining a cavalcade of future Hall of Famers in the series, the name Ruth wasn't high on the radar of collectors outside the New England area. Many historians believe that if Babe had not been converted to an outfielder, he likely would still be in the Hall of Fame as one of the game's greatest pitchers. In his 3 seasons as a full-time hurler, Ruth posted a combined 65-33 record with an astonishing 2.01 ERA. But Ruth's prowess as a hitter was becoming more evident and the Red Sox began transitioning Ruth to the outfield in 1918, cutting his starts on the mound in half and giving him more opportunities at the plate. Ruth proved that he could be dominant at both by posting a 13-7 record with a 2.22 ERA while also batting .300 and leading the American League in home runs in just 317 at-bats. In 1919, Ruth's time on the mound was scaled back even more but he still posted a 9-5 record, though his ERA rose sharply to 2.97. More importantly, his 432 at-bats yielded 29 homers, 113 RBI and 103 runs scored, all league-leaders. Following his infamous move to New York in December of 1919, Yankees manager Miller Huggins put an end to George Herman Ruth's pitching career, making him a full-time outfielder that would destroy records on an annual basis and change the course of baseball history forever! The featured item would be at home in a world-class museum or on exhibit at Cooperstown's Baseball Hall of Fame just as easily as it will be in the collection of the highest bidder. Though graded SGC 60 EX 5, an extraordinary accomplishment on its own, this prolific pasteboard is likely the most impressive specimen for the grade and has a stronger overall appearance then several graded even higher that have recently become available. Any collector that has been in the market for a mid to upper-grade Ruth rookie card is well aware of the two biggest pitfalls plaguing the issue; centering and print lines. The M101-4 Ruth is almost always poorly centered, but the featured specimen offers superior framing for the issue, slightly positioned toward the left side but well within parameters for a higher grade and far more accurate than the large majority of examples in the EX grade. Even more significant is the absence of the two horizontal print lines that appear on virtually every mid-grade M101-4 Ruth, clearly scarring the surface from the center to the right edge near the top of Ruth's image and in the middle, by Ruth's waist. Many prospective buyers think these imperfections to be unavoidable at this grade level, but we're happy to report that this card proves that to be false. The image quality of the young, lanky legend is superb, enhanced by an unadulterated layer of reflective gloss, while each corner shows consistent, mild wear with light enamel loss that is visible under magnification but looks less pronounced to the naked eye. The Sporting News ad on the reverse is surprisingly strong and well-preserved, ably positioned on an off-white canvas that is clean save for the light mark under the "C. C. Spinks & Son" name, a negligible blemish considering its placement on the card and a likely reason the SGC grade isn't higher ... which, of course, would greatly increase the price. We advise you to research prices realized for this card in similar grade, then look at those cards and compare it to what you'll be getting here. We did, and there was no comparison; this one is superior ... hands down!
1916 Sporting News M101-4 #151 Babe Ruth SGC 60 EX 5
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $18,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $90,053.37
Number Bids:13
Competitive in-house shipping is not available for this lot.
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