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Winning Bid:
$52,367.81 (Includes 18% Buyer's Premium)
Bidding Ended:
Wednesday, February 24, 2021 9:00:00 PM (20 Minute Clock Begins At Wednesday, February 24, 2021 9:00:00 PM)
Time Left:
Auction #231 Part I
Value Code:
- - Open Estimate Help Icon
Item Description
Presented here is a piece of baseball memorabilia displaying such an iconic image that advanced Babe Ruth/Boston Red Sox collectors will identify it as the same team photo which appears on the highly desirable 1915 Boston Red Sox team real photo postcard (picturing Babe Ruth standing in the back row) that has brought six-figure prices at auction in recent years with approximately ten examples believed to have survived. Upon closer inspection however, it becomes evident that the photo on this button is not an exact match to the one on the postcard (see postcard image online). Instead, slight differences in player placement would indicate that this button image was taken seconds before/after the postcard image, thus adding to the mystique of this amazing relic.

Sparing no expense during production, this amazing 2.25" button was significantly larger than most baseball buttons of the day. Back paper reads: "A. R. Lopez & Bro., Boston". Based on the dating of the similar image used for the team postcard, this photograph would also have been taken prior to either game three or four of the 1915 World Series. The stadium background seems to indicate that the image was taken at the Boston (National League) park due to ongoing construction at Fenway Park. This fact is very significant, not only in terms of historical context, but ultimately affecting the market value of this incredible piece as well. Being able to definitively state an issue date of October 1915 as opposed to possibly the pre-season of 1916, this button now becomes one of the very few Babe Ruth images dating to his Major League Baseball rookie season of 1915. So, our Royal Rooters button here pre-dates by one year, the world famous Sporting News M101-4/5 Babe Ruth rookie cards that now, at auction, approach seven figures in high-grade and routinely bring mid-six figure prices for low to mid-grade examples.

Prominent display of the Boston Royal Rooters name at the very top of the button would indicate that this highly enthusiastic group of Boston Red Sox fans, led by Mike "Nuff Ced" McGreevy, was likely responsible for its production. Dating back to the late 19th Century, the Royal Rooters were known to be the most loyal and vocal fan base in all of professional baseball.

The team image depicts 22 members along with the team trainer standing at far right and owners in the very top row. Here are the player identifications starting with the back row, from left to right: Ray Collins (P), Smoky Joe Wood (P), Del Gainer (1B), Ernie Shore (P), Vean Gregg (P), Babe Ruth (HOF-P), Carl Mays (P), Dick Hoblitzell (1B), Jack Barry (2B). Middle row, left to right: Dutch Leonard (P), Olaf Henriksen (U), Larry Gardner (3B), Bill Carrigan (C-MGR), Hick Cady (C), Hal Janvrin (U), Pinch Thomas (C). Front row, left to right: Duffy Lewis (LF), Heinie Wagner (2B), Tris Speaker (HOF-CF), Harry Hooper (HOF-RF), Rube Foster (P), Everett Scott (SS). Below the team photo on the bottom you will see that there is a spelling error related to the team identification, stating "Red Soxs 1915 Champions". It's quite surprising that someone proofing this piece would not have picked up the mistake prior to production.

George Herman "Babe" Ruth signed his first professional baseball contract with the International League's Baltimore Orioles prior to the 1914 baseball season. Ruth's only prior baseball experience came at Baltimore's St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reform school that he had attended since childhood. The Boston Red Sox purchased the Babe's contract from the Orioles on July 9, 1914 and the rest, as they say, is history. Only getting into five games with the Red Sox that season, Ruth was sent down to their minor league club in Providence for more seasoning. The Babe was well prepared for his first full season in Boston in 1915 and responded with a sterling 18-8 record and a 2.44 ERA, while also showing prowess at the plate with 15 extra base only 103 at bats. If a Rookie of the Year award existed back then, "The Babe" surely would have taken home the honor. Following a successful postseason, where the Red Sox defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series in five decisive games, Ruth earned the first of his seven career World Championships. Babe would prove that he was no "flash in the pan" in 1916, bettering his pitching record to 23-12 with an A.L. leading 1.75 ERA and leading the BoSox to their second consecutive World Championship, defeating the Brooklyn Robins in five games.  

As if all of this is not magnificent enough, the button comes, as issued, with a 6.75" tall (as folded for decades) red stocking. The fabric has a couple of tiny pinholes where the button was fastened and about a half dozen very tiny fabric loss areas due to insects. Fine. Button has a .5" vertical surface scuff over Hoblitzell and Thomas (two players over from Ruth). Otherwise only scattered light wear perceptible in reflected light. VF. Retains high gloss and displays beautifully.

Only one other example of this button is known, and it lacks the original fabric sock making this the only known complete example and is certain to be a focal point even in the most serious baseball memorabilia collections. In our last auction a 1916 Alpen Brau Red Sox team button picturing Ruth realized $62,980, a new world record price for a button. This offering from a year prior, during Ruth's rookie season, is every bit as historic, important and rare. Paul Muchinsky Collection & Book example.  
Pictures (click images to zoom in)