For the first time ever, personal items coming directly from the Babe Ruth family will be offered publicly. The great grandson of Ruth, Brent Stevens, who is the grandson of Julia Ruth Stevens (Ruth’s daughter) has given the New York-based company Authentic Memorabilia exclusive rights to the collection.
Authentic Memorabilia is owned by Spencer Lader, formerly of Ed Kranepol’s Memorabilia Roadshow and Geppi’s Memorabilia Roadshow. Lader has dealt with the families of Thurman Munson, Phil Rizzuto, Roger Maris, Martin Luther King Jr. and others, but according to Lader, none have been as significant to the sports memorabilia world as the Ruth family.
Stevens dealt with Authentic Memorabilia and Lader in the past while in the process of working on his website baberuthcentral.com. After stumbling upon some memorabilia during a recent visit to Julia’s house, Stevens decided to give Lader a call in order to get his thoughts on what he should do with the pieces.
“As a result of putting together the website, BabeRuthcentral.com, I went up to visit my grandmother and she’s got a whole bunch of pictures all over the wall,” said Stevens in an exclusive interview with Sports Collectors Digest. “But I know she’s also got little things hiding here and there. We searched around in cabinets and sure enough we found some stuff hidden away.
“One of the pieces, which was absolutely amazing, sitting behind the couch, was a picture of Babe on horseback, hunting and it was addressed to my great grandmother and dated back to 1922. Also, in one of those cabinets we found that contract between some folders.”
That contract Stevens referred to is an agreement between Ruth and the National Broadcasting Company Inc. from 1943, and signed “George H. Ruth,” in perfect fountain pen ink.
According to Lader, this piece and others will be offered in a Memory Lane auction toward the end of the year.
“A bunch of Wirephotos were found, there’s also some of Babe’s old furniture, a cabinet which would hold decanters and wine and other spirits at the time, Babe’s favorite hunting hat and other personal items that were close to him...” said Lader. “In your definition of memorabilia, there’s a lot of memorabilia.
“Whether it’s a pocket watch, a saxophone, a desk, a bar; that’s all very collectible.”
Memory Lane’s Roger Cameron said one of the main reasons his company was chosen for the sale of the first selection of Ruth items was due to its past results with significant Yankees items.
Cameron is also anticipating the announcement of more possible key items from the collection.
“We were told that there are signed photos, signed baseballs, old furniture and more in this collection,” said Cameron. “There could be some more gems, some hidden surprises and some so-called buried treasures that nobody outside the family even knows about.”
According to Stevens, the family is not going to sell everything, as some memorabilia is just too important to it. However, he said there are certain items that don’t necessarily have quite as much of a connection to the family and wouldn’t necessarily have a hard time parting with and certainly would be found valuable to a lot of collectors out there. Like some of the pieces, which mean a lot to the family and Stevens, so do the many stories his grandmother has told him about Ruth throughout the years.
“Obviously she is probably the best connection alive to Babe Ruth and she is still very much with it,” said Stevens. “I have lots of memories going up to her house in New England and sitting down and listening to stories of her life with Babe. She thinks so highly of Babe. I know there’s been a lot of different misconceptions about Babe, but my grandmother has nothing but great things to say about him as a person and a father.
“She actually went on the 1934 Tour of Japan and they actually did a whole cruise of the Pacific, Bali, China, Hong Kong and ultimately ended up in Europe. The stories she has of that trip, I think that’s probably one of the more important experiences she had with the Babe.”
Stevens added that his grandmother and great grandmother (Ruth’s wife, Claire) were very active in the American Cancer Society and for that reason a good part of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will be donated to the charity.
Readers can direct all inquiries about the Babe Ruth family collection to Authentic Memorabilia at (516) 466-0216 or visit its website at authmem.com.