1923 Babe Ruth Watch Goes Big….A Bigger One Coming Soon
Recently, a very valuable watch went up for sale. The pocket watch was once awarded to Babe Ruth for being a part of the 1923 Yankee team that won the World Championship that year. The 1923 World Series was significant in Yankee history for a few reasons: first, it was the first of many championships to be won by the Yankees; secondly, it was also the first year of the original Yankee Stadium, otherwise most affectionately known by fans as “The House That Ruth Built.” In the match-up against their biggest rival, the New York Giants, Ruth batted .368 and had 3 home runs.
Ruth gave the watch as a gift to a long-time friend, Charlie Schwefel, who many times caddied for Babe during his golf games. The most recent owner was a collector that had acquired the watch from the Schwefel family. And now, that collector is $717K richer thanks to a successful sale of the piece in Heritage’s auction this past weekend in New York. Truly, a very valuable, interesting piece of Babe Ruth and baseball memorabilia. However, as noteworthy as this particular watch is, another much more unique watch owned by the Babe is about to go up on the auction block.
SCP Auctions has been asked by the Ruth Family to represent them in the sale of one of their most-prized family items – a gold pocket watch that was presented to the Babe by the New York Yankees during his last appearance at Yankee Stadium on June 13th, 1948. See the press release by SPC Auctions below. Stay tuned fans. I has the potential to be a record-breaking piece!
Two months prior to his passing, Babe Ruth returned to Yankee Stadium for the last time on June 13th, 1948 as part of the 25th anniversary of the opening of “The House That Ruth Built”. Culminating the event, the Yankees ceremoniously retired Babe Ruth’s number 3. One by one, his old friends and former teammates, including those from his first championship team in 1923, were introduced to the nostalgic cheers of the capacity crowd. Finally, announcer Mel Allen’s voice boomed from the loudspeakers, “Ladies and Gentleman, George Herman Ruth…Babe Ruth!” Amidst a raucous ovation, the weakened Ruth, frail and ailing with throat cancer, stepped for the last time onto the infield grass, bat in hand, into “the cauldron of sound he must have known better than any other man.” Draped in his old uniform, he struggled forward, helped by the support of the bat borrowed from Bob Feller, to address the crowd of 49,647 as they showered their hero with one final roar of affection and an ebullient singing of “Auld Lang Syne”. Nat Fein, a Press Photographer for the New York Herald Tribune, immortalized the moment with a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph that endures as perhaps the most famous image in sports history, titled “The Babe Bows Out.”
As part of the June 13th, 1948 celebration the Yankees honored their greatest hero by presenting him with this gold watch. The 14k gold Longines pocket watch features engravings on the back that read, “Babe Ruth – Silver Anniversary – Yankee Stadium 1923-1948 “The House That Ruth Built.”Since Ruth’s passing on August 16th, 1948 the watch has been preserved as a cherished heirloom by Ruth’s family. According to SCP Auctions V.P. Dan Imler, “This is the most significant item among only a few mementos from Ruth’s career that his family has retained. It is well documented that the vast majority of Babe’s personal memorabilia was procured by the National Baseball Hall of Fame shortly after his passing. This watch is the only significant Babe Ruth artifact ever offered to the public with direct Ruth family provenance. It is honor for us to present this monumental treasure to the public.” Of the watch’s historical significance Imler states, “It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of this item. It represents the 25th Anniversary of Yankee Stadium – baseball’s grandest cathedral, the 25th Anniversary of the Yankees first World Championship, the retirement of Ruth’s iconic number, and Ruth’s final appearance and emotional farewell to his beloved fans. In a way, the watch could be perceived as Babe Ruth’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Yankees.” The Babe Ruth watch will highlight SCP Auctions’ May Spring Premier Auction which will include hundreds of other significant items of sports memorabilia and cards.