Magnificent 1920 Babe Ruth M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn (SGC Good+ 2.5) – Babe Ruth's First Mainstream New York Yankees Card - "Pop 2"; Only 3 Graded Higher on the SGC "Pop' Chart!
The staggering escalation of price tags associated with early Babe Ruth cardboard issues continues to forge ahead like an uncontrollable "brush fire". We are already 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 PSA 7 Ruth Rookie privately fetching nearly $3 million; several E121 Ruths selling for $271K (PSA 7) and $83K (SGC 3.5); and a low-grade PSA 2 Collins McCarthy Ruth realizing $125K! 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. 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 as a "Boston" player (1917-19). Then, in lieu of Harry Frazee'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". Due to a lack of available Ruth images in a Yankee uniform, "The Babe's" Red Sox pitching pose was still utilized on the 1920 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 five 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 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 14 specimens of the 1920 New York Yankees version are listed on the combined SGC (11) and PSA (3) "pop" charts! Fortunately for collectors, one of these scarce Babe Ruth subjects is presented here in a super eye pleasing SGC Good+ 2.5 holder, one of only two SGC examples at this plateau with a meager three specimens graded higher. Courtesy of Memory Lane, a myriad of esteemed hobbyists are now afforded the golden 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 and William Patterson Ruth subjects (only six known examples for each).
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 in lieu 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 Rookie 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 beyond the technical assessment. The SGC 2.5 grade is primarily due to a diminutive upper right corner chip as well as a negligible surface abrasion and light soiling near the lower right edge, with neither of these modest blemishes impeding upon the otherwise solid mid-grade aesthetics highlighted by a sparkling 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". Even corner wear (aside from the aforementioned right corner chip) is consistent with a "VG/EX" 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 the "Babe" on the sidelines right before game time, with the 1920 Felix Mendelsohn Ruth effectively transcending 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" red stockings to "Big Apple" pinstripes, with Ruth about to embark on a career that would place him as our National Pastime's greatest all-time player!
MIN BID $5,000