c.1920 Babe Ruth "Batting" Barnstorming Tour Ad Card - Babe Ruth/Carl Mays Stars PSA 1.5 FR – Extremely Rare with Only 3 Known Examples!
RARE 1920 BABE!!! A year before legendary sports agent Christy Walsh would officially represent George Herman Ruth in 1921, the Babe would play his inaugural campaign in the Big Apple, followed by a sweet deal to join several MLB stars in a post-season barnstorming tour. The first such tour of many that would follow in years to come, Ruth joined fellow Yankee teammates Carl Mays, Bob Meusel, Jack Quinn, and Fred Hoffman to partake in games played from early through late October, with Red Sox and NY Giants players also participating in these barnstorming games that were a source of additional income for severely underpaid players. Dubbed the Babe Ruth/Carl Mays Stars 1920 tour, a vast number of these games were played against African-American teams as well as local ballplayers, for which the MLB players would join forces with these locals to comprise a full team. The highest-paid MLB player in the big leagues in 1920 via his $20,000 Yankees salary, renowned Sporting News writer David Pietrusza claimed that Ruth earned an additional $40,000 from these October tour games including visits to Oneonta, New York, Philadelphia, and New Jersey cities such as Perth Amboy, Trenton, Camden, and Jersey City.
Both our catalog and website include an image of a Friday, October 15, 1920 ad promoting the Babe Ruth/Carl Mays tour to be played at Neahwa Park in Oneonta, NY, with the newspaper ad boldly stating "BABE RUTH IS COMING"! Indeed, the Sultan of Swat was certainly padding his pockets, with Ruth also adding lucrative proceeds from his inaugural appearance in motion pictures via the popular 1920 Headin' Home film. As an aftermath for the 1920 tour games, extremely stern baseball commissioner Judge Mountain Landis forbade players to play in any barnstorming games following the 1921 campaign. This prompted many players, including Carl Mays, to pass on the repeated 1921 tour due to the fear of being reprimanded by Landis for the 1922 season. Mays was also in the midst of dealing with a very painstaking issue, having inadvertently beaned beloved Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in the head via one of his submarine fastballs on August 16, 1920, ultimately leading to Chapman's death the following day. The double whammy of Judge Landis' barnstorming prohibition as well as Mays' increased unpopularity with fans for the Chapman incident surely led to Mays' decision to throw in the towel. Regarding the great Bambino, in his typical confrontational manner, he stubbornly refused to abide by Landis' edict, with both he and Meusel both rolling the dice and likewise barnstorming in October 2021. As an aftermath, Ruth and Meusel paid the price for their 1921 barnstorming play, with both players being suspended for the first six weeks of the 1922 season. As an extraordinary heirloom from that inaugural 1920 Babe Ruth/Carl Mays barnstorming tour, presented here is an extremely rare PSA 1.5 FR c.1920 Babe Ruth Batting Barnstorming Tour Ad Card from the Babe Ruth/Carl Mays Stars Tour.
The batting version of this utmost scarcity (as opposed to the throwing variation), to the best of our knowledge, is one of only three known examples, with this remarkable offering one of the few known 1920 inaugural Yankees Babe Ruth issues. Along with his M101-6 Felix Mendehlson and likewise obscure Headin' Home cards (an example of his 1920 Headin' Home card is also presented in this auction), this museum-worthy masterpiece resides as one of the Babe's first cards issued in his renowned New York Yankees uniform. It's no secret as to the momentous prestige and value associated with any 1920 Babe Ruth collectible, let alone one that boasts a resounding paucity level virtually second to none. While PSA's label states "c.1920", based on the aforementioned information regarding Carl Mays ultimately skipping the 1921 tour due to Landis' aggressive player ban, it is a given certainty that this world-class memento was issued before the start of the 1920 tour, placing it as a bona fide 1920 issue.
Its momentous stature is also escalated by the breathtaking sepia-toned Ruth batting image revealing the mighty Babe donning his classic Yankee pinstripes and midnight blue cap worn throughout the 1920 campaign (Ruth wore a striped white cap in 1921), having just blasted another horsehide sphere at the Yankees 1920 Polo Grounds home field. Originally taken in July 1920, this exact image was used for the back cover of the July 20, 1920 New York Daily News sports section, with the imposing headline reading "THE COLOSSUS OF SWAT". One of the Bambino's most exhilarating illustrations ever issued, four years later it was utilized once again for the front cover of a renowned 1925 MID-WEEK PICTORIAL magazine. Most significantly, and to reiterate, justifying its 1920 issue year is the fact that since Carl Mays bailed on the 1921 barnstorming tour, it would make zero sense for the New York based Savage Enterprises promoter to distribute a trade card reflecting his name to promote a Carl Mays Stars tour without his participation. Measuring approximately 3-1/4" x 5-1/2", Ruth's image literally jumps off the card, with its crystal-clear clarity and superb contrast stealing the show.
The critical obverse side has eluded any obtrusive blemishes, with even corner wear, a diminutive notation near the upper right edge and various areas of scrapbook removal situated on the blank verso accounting for the assessment. The final superlative is the following legible white text situated beneath Ruth's hallowed illustration: "Special Tour - Babe Ruth, Carl Mays Stars – Direction Jess Lynch, Savage Enterprises - 370 East 149th St., N. Y. City". Fresh to the hobby and recently discovered by Memory Lane, this amazing 1920 Babe Ruth offering effectively turns back the clock to his inaugural 1920 campaign in New York. The mighty Babe would immediately establish his unparalleled mark by walloping a record-setting 54 round-trippers, easily eclipsing his 29-mark from the previous season while revolutionizing baseball in the midst of a disastrous Black Sox scandal. The Babe would also pace the Junior Circuit with 125 RBIs, 158 runs scored, and an unfathomable 1.379 OPS, the latter being the highest of his career. Baseball had never seen the likes of such a remarkable season, and it comes as little surprise that Savage Enterprises would step up to the plate to pay Ruth excessive money in return for him partaking in their highly publicized 1920 barnstorming tour. Historical to say the least, no wonder collectors frantically pursue Ruth's earliest Yankee artifacts, with this awe-inspiring keepsake being one of the most significant, imposing and elusive Ruth collectibles on the planet!
MIN BID $10,000