The “Little” Johnny Sylvester collection, a unique family-owned archive related to one of the most famous stories in baseball history, headlines the Feb. 6 Grey Flannel auction, which opens Jan. 21 at greyflannelauctions.com.
Sylvester was a gravely ill 11-year-old boy who rallied after receiving a baseball signed by Babe Ruth with a promise from the Yankee slugger to “knock a homer” for him.
Shortly before Oct. 6, 1926, Ruth and the Yankees sent the signed and inscribed baseball to Little Johnny, who was hospitalized near his home in Essex Falls, N.J. The youngster had been seriously injured in the summer of 1926 after falling off a horse and being accidentally kicked in the head by his mount. Learning of the incident and Sylvester’s devotion to the Yankees, the team sent Sylvester the ball from St. Louis, where they were playing the Cardinals in the 1926 World Series.
The Ruth-signed ball is the centerpiece of the Sylvester collection, but other big names are also featured.
“Big Bill” Tilden, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, sent Johnny three hand-written letters wishing him well, and even sent the boy an autographed tennis racquet he had used in the U.S. National Championships (now known as the U.S. Open).
Hall of Fame halfback “Red” Grange, a friend of Ruth’s, also sent a letter to the kid, promising to score a touchdown just for him in his first game at Yankee Stadium. In his letter, Grange invites Johnny and his father to the game, and also gifts the boy with an autographed football. Baseball Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby was another high-profile athlete who sent Little Johnny a letter.
Grey Flannel will also feature a number of championship rings, many of the vintage variety. A few examples include 1936 Vernon “Lefty” Gomez N.Y. Yankees World Championship ring, 1947 Bill Bevens N.Y. Yankees World Championship ring and 1957 Bob Turley N.Y. Yankees AL Championship ring.
In the game-used arena, the marquee item is a 1919 Frank “Home Run” Baker N.Y. Yankees game-used road flannel jersey that is the earliest known jersey of any Yankee Hall of Famer.
Another game-used beauty is a 1959 Hank Bauer N.Y. Yankees game-used bat signed by Bauer and Mickey Mantle.
As if that isn’t enough prized memorabilia for Yankees fans, Grey Flannel is also offering a single-signed Ruth ball, an OAL ball signed by Ruth, Miller Huggins and Jacob Ruppert and a 1927 N.Y. Yankees “Murderers’ Row” team-signed OAL ball.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for this sale. View all of the lots at www.greyflannelauctions.com. Call (631) 288-7800 for further information.