Hake’s recent premier auction was filled with Americana and pop culture memorabilia with enough “wow” factor to realize $2.571 million in sales. When the auction ended on March 22, 2023, the Great Bambino nailed one out of the park as the auction’s second biggest seller.
The circa 1920 Babe Ruth Paul Thompson PSA/DNA Type 1 authentic original photograph sold for $78,529, more than double the high-end preauction estimate of $35,000. This is one of the finest examples of pre-war baseball photography, a Type I portrait depicting the athlete with an incredible combination of pitching and hitting skills. Accompanied by a PSA/DNA Type I LOA, this amazing relic is credited to Paul Thompson, one of the preeminent baseball photographers of the early 20th century. Adding to the desirability of this photograph is the fact that PSA has identified it as being circa 1920, at the very dawn of Ruth’s New York Yankees baseball tenure.
After appearing in just a handful of Boston Red Sox games during the summer of 1914, the Babe would take the American League by storm in 1915, immediately establishing himself as the top lefty hurler in the league while also showing some pop in the batter’s box. For the next four seasons, Ruth would be the focal point for Boston’s World Championship teams. Following the 1919 season, the Babe and Red Sox owner Harry Frazee were unable to come to a contract agreement for 1920. Thus, Frazee worked out terms with New York Yankees ownership to trade Ruth to their ball club. By this time, Babe was a full-time outfielder and the leading home run hitter in all of baseball, out homering entire AL teams for a full season.
The New York Yankees of the early 1920s were in the process of building what would become baseball’s preeminent dynasty for the remainder of the 20th century. In 1923, Henry Louis Gehrig joined the Babe in New York, becoming the back half of the greatest one-two punch in baseball history. The Yankees dynasty would peak during the 1927 season as the club loaded with many Hall of Famers, would be labeled “Murderer’s Row” and become widely regarded as the greatest team in MLB history.
From an individual standpoint, Ruth finished his career with a batting average of .342 along with a then-record 714 home runs and 2,214 RBIs, leading the AL in runs scored, home runs, RBIs and walks numerous times each. In addition, he would finish his mound career with a great record of 94-46 with a 2.28 career ERA.