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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Babe Ruth’s signature not likely on Legion’s mini baseballs

BY BILL WAGNER

BABE WAXPAK

Dear Babe: My father was a member of the 1948 American Junior Legion State Champion Sanford (Maine) team, played in August in Presque Isle, Maine. He received a mini baseball with Babe Ruth’s signature – it looks to be real, not signed by Ghost. It’s also signed by Ed Waitkus and three others. We have the game program and father’s Certificate of Eligibility to play (complete with photo and fingerprint). After further discussion and some research it appears the signing occurred at an event in the team’s honor which was held in November. I have his catcher’s mitt. That plus the ball et al will make a very cool montage in a shadow box. It will be treasured, regardless of value and passed on to his grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. How can I find out if Babe’s signature is real?

– Kathie LeBel,
Westbrook, Maine ...

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Dear Babe: My father was a member of the 1948 American Junior Legion State Champion Sanford (Maine) team, played in August in Presque Isle, Maine. He received a mini baseball with Babe Ruth’s signature – it looks to be real, not signed by Ghost. It’s also signed by Ed Waitkus and three others. We have the game program and father’s Certificate of Eligibility to play (complete with photo and fingerprint). After further discussion and some research it appears the signing occurred at an event in the team’s honor which was held in November. I have his catcher’s mitt. That plus the ball et al will make a very cool montage in a shadow box. It will be treasured, regardless of value and passed on to his grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc. How can I find out if Babe’s signature is real?

– Kathie LeBel,
Westbrook, Maine

Legion ballplayers who made it to state tourneys across the country received the Legion/Ford mini-baseballs with a Ruth signature. Da Babe has received letters from former players in a number of different states over the years.

The question is whether you have one actually signed by Ruth. The answer is: Not likely.

For the record, here’s what Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com had to say. Remember he’s a dispassionate auction house guy, looking at what it would bring – not as a family keepsake: “Those mini baseballs are not signed by Ruth – possibly signed by Claire, his wife. Ruth was pretty ill at the time, and there were many of those balls given out. I don’t remember ever seeing one of those mini balls that has been real. He did attend a few games of Legion ball in 1947, and I have seen some full-size baseballs that he did sign when he attended. The other signatures on the ball are genuine with the Waitkus adding a bit of value to it. The ball may be worth $200 to $300. If it was just a Ruth ghost-signed ball, it would be around $100. No one really wants one. The other items add very little or no value since the signature is not genuine.”

As Da Babe mentioned before, one would have to assume that Ford would have kept the few baseballs actually signed by Ruth for special customers as opposed to giving them out to high school players. But you never know. As you note, the items are of far more value to your dad and his family. The shadow box is a really good idea.

Babe note

Collectors focused on baseball’s Hall of Famers will like Panini’s 2012 Cooperstown release.

The set is all about the players, executives and broadcasters who have found coveted spots in Cooperstown.

In fact, the hottest card in the set doesn’t feature a player.

This time around its Vince Scully’s autograph that has collectors scrambling. Scully is easily recognized as the greatest play-by-play baseball announcer ever. He’s been at it for 64 years. He’s probably seen it all, including Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series, Sandy Koufax’s four no-hitters (including one perfecto) and Kirk Gibson dramatic Game 1 homer in 1988. Cooperstown Baseball features a 150-card base set with another 20 short-printed colorized cards. There are also a number of different insert sets along with more than a hundred autographed a Famous Cuts cards. While Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle aren’t in the set (apparently because of licensing issues), there is a 1-of-1 Mantle signature in the Famous Cuts subset and there’s a Ruth card in the Museum Pieces subset. featuring an image of his 7145h home run ball.

Babe Waxpak is written by Bill Wagner. If you have a question for Babe Waxpak, include your full name and hometown, the card number, year and manufacturer or send a photocopy. Please do not send cards. The address is: Babe Waxpak,
Box 492397, Redding CA 96049-2397 or email babewaxpak@charter.net.