Heartland March 2020 Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/9/2020

” Some twenty years ago, I stopped talking about Babe Ruth for the simple reason that I realized that those who had never seen him play didn’t believe me.” -Tommy Holmes

In 1948, as the clock wound down on Babe Ruth’s life, the game’s greatest star and most famous slugger made one last cross-country sojourn, a sort of farewell tour, to visit the fans and enjoy the game he so dearly loved. In his heart, he knew his final days were drawing near, so he found comfort in the one place where he had always felt at home. The ball park. Sponsored by The American Legion, Ruth toured the country in a chauffeured car, stopping in a different city or town nightly. He embraced the fans in big league stadiums and minor league parks as warmly as they embraced him. Baseball’s ultimate bigger-than-life star made himself reachable to the millions who loved him, even though they didn’t know it was “goodbye.” At each stop along the way, the home teams gave away over-sized promotional baseball cards picturing a much younger version of The Babe, adorned in pinstripes as the world will always remember him. Ruth, in true Ruthian style, would stop to sign cards, tell stories, and, as always, make every child he encountered feel special during the tour. For many, it was obvious that Ruth was failing. But for others, all they saw was an aging man with a raspy voice, who a decade and a half earlier had eclipsed the unthinkable mark of 700 home runs and had also crushed the first home run in All Star Game history. The fans saw what they wanted to see. Baseball’s greatest hero had come to their hometown. And he even brought souvenirs for all in attendance. The printing plate used for the final Babe Ruth baseball card produced in his lifetime. From the Carl Sawatski Collection The item up for bid is a bit unusual. And a bit poignant. This is the actual printing plate used to create every one of the promotional baseball cards Babe Ruth handed out on his final tour. It has been cleaned of all ink and grime that go with basic black and white printing. It looks exactly as it did the day it was loaded onto a small press in order to create Ruth’s final baseball card run. Ruth personally gave the printing plate and several other personal items to former Milwaukee Braves and St. Louis Cardinals backup catcher Carl Sawatski, when he was playing in the minors. Early in his minor league career, Sawatski was a dominant power hitter, who was proclaimed by sportswriters as “The Young Babe” and “The Next Babe Ruth.” On Ruth’s final tour, he made it a point to seek out Sawatski and meet the youngster pegged to be his successor. The story of how the printing plate was obtained, a well-written story, as penned by Sawatski’s son is included with the lot.

The date was June 21, 1948 when my father, Carl Ernest Sawatski met Babe Ruth; the event of which he never forgot, recounted often, and more especially further defined his own name in the game of baseball.

 

In that year my father was in the middle of his 20th year and was leading the league in homeruns; he was, for that reason nicknamed” “The Young Babe”.

 

He had been assigned to the Cub’s Class A affiliate in the Western League, the Des Moines Bruins, and on this occasion was visiting Sioux City, playing against the Sioux City Soos. On this same date Babe Ruth was staying at the Warrior Hotel in the same city, and was engaged to appear in nearby Spencer, Iowa for a charity event for the benefit of youth baseball.

 

Babe had appeared days before in St. Louis and was in the midst of his last American Legion road trip; visiting Sioux City and Sioux Falls before entering Memorial Hospital on June 23rd.

 

That morning, Babe called the Bruins manager, Stan Hack and informed him that; “he wanted to meet this Young Babe”. Later that morning my father was taken to the hotel and was introduced to Mr. Ruth. My father was nervous and Babe was visibly weakened by his illness; my father recounted that Babe’s male nurse carefully maintained the pace of the visit, and constantly flanked him. My father asked Babe about the year he hit 60 homers: “how much did you weigh sir”? He replied, “I got to 257 that year… I always weighed more than they showed on the books”. They both laughed and talked about my father’s career, but the time was short and Babe was not up for a long talk.

 

As my father began to say his goodbyes, Babe signaled to his male nurse to give him a gift, which he obviously had prepared in advance of their visit. The nurse with Babe’s watchful eye handed my father a bat and what appeared to be a small plaque. The gifts were in fact a bat dating from Babe’s early playing career and the lithograph plate used to print his last promotional baseball card.

 

My father was overwhelmed with Babe’s thoughtfulness and for the next fifteen years of his professional playing career and the remaining forty-three years of his life held the memory of that day very close.

 

With 34 homers and knocking in 138 runs in just 127 games in 1947, 29 homers by mid-season; leading the league to a first place finish in 1948 and 45 homers and knocking in 153 runs in 1949; Opening that season at Joe Engel Stadium in Chattanooga against the Lookouts, blasting what some observers credit as the longest home run ever hit that it traveled 575 feet… That’s my father “The Young Babe”.

1947 Printing Block From The Final Babe Ruth Baseball Card Printed During His Lifetime.With the 1947 American Association Card Included.
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Minimum Bid: $1,000.00
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Auction closed on Thursday, April 9, 2020.
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