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Lot # 1020 (of 1594)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1934 Tour of Japan Album Signed by the Team Including Ruth and Gehrig

Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $26,437.50

This extremely impressive, leather-bound presentation photo album commemorates the famous 1934 All-American baseball team's tour of Japan and includes signatures of all of the players that were a part of that historic tour. It is an extraordinary example of the premier item related to the tour. An identical special presentation album was given as a special keepsake to each participating team member, as well as accompanying officials. The highlight of the album is a spectacular team sheet signed by all twenty members of the American team, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Connie Mack, Jimmie Foxx, Charlie Gehringer, Earl Averill, Lefty Gomez, Moe Berg, Lefty O'Doul, Bing Miller, Eric McNair, Rabbit Warstler, Joe Cascarella, Frankie Hayes, Earl Whitehill, Clint Brown, Doc Ebbing, and John Quinn. Each of the players has signed the sheet in black fountain pen, with the exception of Warstler (green ink), and all of the signatures grade "9/10." Also included are two additional team-signed sheets bearing the signatures of Japanese players. Displayed within the album are twenty-four 9 x 11 inch black-and-white photos, each mounted onto a heavy cardboard page. The photos chronicle the entire tour and include scenes of the American team members aboard their ocean liner, being feted during a parade upon their arrival, at various public functions and, of course, on the field of play. Ruth is featured in many of the photos (often prominently as he was the star of the tour), as is Gehrig. No expense was spared in terms of time or money in the design and assembly of these albums. Quite a few signed balls have survived from the 1934 tour but, naturally, very few albums, as these books were only issued to members of the tour. The albums are extremely rare. Few were issued; some did not not survive; and the decorative value of the individual components of the album has resulted in some of them having been "broken up" over the years. The offered album (15 x 11 x 3 inches) is complete as issued and remains in outstanding condition. The pages of the album display very light foxing; however, the photos and team sheets are almost entirely unaffected. Aside from some very minor rippling (as made, due to the mounting process) the photos all remain in Excellent condition. The American team sheet (7.5 x 9 inches) is in Excellent to Mint condition. The leather covers (the front cover is lettered in Japanese characters) display light wear and are in overall Excellent condition.

Barry Halper kept this album because he always had a special appreciation for the famous 1934 World Tour, both because of his love of all things related to Babe Ruth and his interest in the fascinating subplot of the tour. The 1934 tour of Japan by Connie Mack's "All-American" team is considered by many to be the most famous overseas baseball tour in history. The reason is twofold. This was the first and only overseas tour of Babe Ruth's career, and his popularity, even in Japan, was so great that he was treated like royalty by the Japanese people. The second, lesser known reason had to do with the fact that Moe Berg was on the team. Berg was a journeyman catcher of little note and his inclusion on the roster was not by Connie Mack's choosing, but rather by that of the United States government. Unbeknownst to everyone at the time, Berg, a Princeton graduate who spoke seven different languages, was living a dual life. On the surface he was a professional ballplayer. His other career, however, was that of an undercover spy for the U. S. Government. Intelligence officials saw the 1934 baseball tour as an ideal opportunity to acquire important information regarding Japan's major cities, and for that reason Berg was hastily added to the roster just before the team set sail. Armed with a movie camera, Berg took hundreds of reconnaissance films that were later used by the government during World War II. Berg's secret agenda aside, the tour also further fueled the popularity of baseball in Japan and in December of 1934, Japan's first professional baseball league was formed. From the Barry Halper Collection. LOA from James Spence/JSA.
Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000/$15,000. SOLD FOR $26,437.50

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