Magnificent 1920 Babe Ruth M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn (SGC 10/1) – Babe Ruth's First Mainstream New York Yankees Card
The staggering escalation of price tags associated with early Babe Ruth cardboard issues continues to move onward like an uncontrollable "brush fire". We already are familiar with the soaring values of Ruth's 1916 rookie card, but other scarce issues are now following suit with regard to pricing upticks. Some examples include a 1917 Collins McCarthy PSA 4.5 Ruth recently selling for $204K, a 1921 Oxford Confectionary PSA 6 fetching $35K, and various Ruth signed cards realizing staggering price tags between $125K - $150K! One of the hobby's best kept secrets with regard to Babe Ruth rarity has been his 1920 M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn subject, especially considering its extremely low "pop" count coupled with the fact it represents one of Babe Ruth's inaugural New York Yankee cards. Obscure to say the least, the oversized Felix Mendelsohn cards were first issued by the renowned Chicago based Felix Mendelsohn publisher in 1917 and rarely surface in the hobby.
Measuring approximately 4-3/8" x 6-3/8", the 123 known subjects were offered in the Sporting News publication in lots of 100 for $5. The set's four premier players include Babe Ruth, Joe Jackson, Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb with these baseball immortals highly coveted and extremely valuable due to their unquestionable desirability and scarcity. As with all mainstream cardboard issues, the most coveted and valuable subject is George Herman "Babe" Ruth, with Ruth's 1917 M101-6 obviously depicting him in a Red Sox uniform as a Boston pitcher, clearly labeled as such near the lower left quadrant. For three years, a similar card was distributed for Ruth, until 1920, when in lieu of Harry Frieze's shocking sale of the "Bambino" to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season to fund his new theatrical production "No, No, Nanette, the 1920 Felix Mendelsohn text for Ruth's subject was changed to read "C.F. Yankees". Interestingly enough, Ruth's Red Sox pitching image was still utilized on the M101-6 card that along with a handful of "Headin Home", Tex Rickard", and some "W" strip cards, truly represents Babe Ruth's inaugural New York Yankees baseball card!
Most would agree that one of Babe Ruth's first Yankee baseball cards should be placed at a pinnacle level amongst the hobby's premier cardboard artifacts. Simply stated, this card marks the "changing of the guard" not only in Ruth's career, but with regard to the significant shift in the American League's balance of power. The Red Sox had already captured 5 World Championships (1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918) with Ruth contributing to three of those titles while the Yankees had claimed none. Ruth's unpopular move to the Empire State (from a Boston fan's perspective) was truly a landmark "stepping stone" for the Yankees ultimately claiming 27 World Series Titles before the Red Sox would claim their next championship in 2004.
The "Curse of the Bambino" was in full effect, and Ruth's remarkable oversized Mendelsohn baseball card is a perfect testament to that lopsided sale of this immortal star to the Yankees; especially considering its early 1920 issue date, the critical "Yankees" text and the "Sultan of Swat" donning a Red Sox uniform. While the M101-6 Boston card is much rarer (only a single PSA Graded Copy "Boston" example exists on BOTH the SGC & PSA population reports), only 13 specimens of the 1920 New York Yankees version are listed on the COMBINED SGC (10) and PSA (3) "pop" charts! Fortunately for collectors, one of these scarce Babe Ruth subjects is presented here in a stellar eye pleasing SGC 10/1 holder, with a myriad of esteemed hobbyists now afforded the opportunity of capturing Ruth's highly cherished inaugural New York Yankees 1920 baseball card. Indeed, only a handful of Ruth cards are more obscure than his magnificent 1920 M101-6 subject including his incomparable 1914 Baltimore News issue (10 known examples) and the near-impossible Frederick Foto Ruth (6 known examples).
Babe Ruth's irrefutable stature as baseball's greatest all-time player is "set in stone", and it is an inconceivable thought that this swashbuckling ballplayer would have been a Hall of Fame PITCHER had he not been moved from the pitching rubber to an everyday outfielder because of his incredible batting prowess. Many agree that Ruth's iconic stature resides "above the game itself", and his supreme diamond superlatives are a thunderous testament to his world-class standing. Other than his sanctified rookie cards (Baltimore News & 1916 issues), what could possibly be more rewarding than a Babe Ruth cardboard keepsake that serves as the transitional memento from his Red Sox to Yankee playing days. Regarding overall condition, it doesn't take an Ivy League graduate to realize this card portrays superb aesthetics, with the technical assessment solely due to some faint ink notations that have been partially erased near Ruth's two lower feet (an extremely light diagonal ink line runs through Ruth's lower right stocking and evidence of partial erasing exists beneath his left foot).
Yet, not even these diminutive blemishes can detract from the card's otherwise brilliant central image. Ruth's majestic pitching pose transcends the viewer back to the "Babe's" Red Sox years when the young hurler was thought to be embarking on a legendary pitching career. Crystal-clear resolution and near-perfect contrast dominate the sepia-tone image that has miraculously defied "father time" via its mid-grade aesthetics. Even corner wear is consistent with a "VG" example, no glaring creases are evident, the "Babe" Ruth C.F. Yankees" verbiage is extremely bold, and the blank verso is relatively clean with only some negligible toning. Staring at this miraculous relic, you can almost feel yourself "playing catch" with Ruth on the sidelines right before game time, with the spine-tingling visual appeal far outweighing the aforementioned light notations.
In summary, what the 1920 Felix Mendelsohn Babe Ruth subject accomplishes is effectively transcend the avid collector back in time to a period that would change baseball forever. Not only would Ruth begin his torrid assault on the Polo Ground's fences donning a New York Yankee uniform, but in lieu of the Black Sox scandal, he would step forward as the player to ultimately save our National Pastime. This iconic cardboard heirloom clearly represents the "Sultan of Swat's" transition from "Bean Town's" red stockings to New York pinstripes, with Ruth about to embark on a career that would place him as our National Pastime's uncontested greatest all-time player!
MIN BID $3,000