Defining and transcending a game that had been tarnished in public disgrace only a short time before, Babe Ruth, ironically, lived and played by his own rules. While he virtually “saved” baseball by all but inventing the home run following the 1919 Black Sox scandal, Ruth was taken to task for his off-the-field exploits in 1925. During that season, Ruth and the Yankees endured uncharacteristic setbacks, but the subsequent recoveries were quite remarkable. This OAL Johnson Ball hails specifically from that 1925 campaign and is autographed by Ruth.
The offered baseball symbolized his status as the brightest star in the baseball firmament. The lightly toned sphere showcases legible trademark stampings and red-and-blue alternating laces. In its rightful occupancy of the sweet spot, Ruth’s black-ink fountain pen scripting is marked by quotation marks around “Babe” (a pre-1928 Ruth custom), and his traditional curvaceous upper-case “B” and “R” characters. With very minor separations and varying pen pressures, Ruth’s magnificent signature projects (“5-6”) in terms of strength and clarity. On the south panel, a period black-ink endorsement of “T.J. Doyle” is of unknown origin. Full photo LOA from JSA.
Physical ailments hampered Ruth from the get-go in 1925. Having reported to spring training at a robust 256 pounds, he posted a .447 batting average in exhibition play, despite flu symptoms and temperatures as high as 105. The diagnosis was an intestinal abscess and surgery kept Ruth out of the lineup until June 1. Failing to heed warnings regarding his excessive eating and drinking, Ruth drew the ire of skipper Miller Huggins, who suspended him on August 29 and fined him an unprecedented $5000. Additional drama loomed in Ruth’s marriage. A paternity suit filed by a Long Island girl and Ruth’s simultaneous affair with widow Claire Hodgson made for ugly gossip all season. Still, by the time cooler heads prevailed and Ruth was reinstated, he shunned the “experts” and their summations that he was washed up at 31. The day after he returned to the Yankee lineup, he launched his 300th career home run and what followed were six seasons (1926-1931) in which he averaged 50 home runs, 155 RBI and a .354 average. So while illness limited Ruth to 25 home runs and 67 RBI in 1925, his demeanor and lust for life remained vibrant as ever.