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  For 23 years this glove has been the prized possession and most popular exhibit at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum. Goldin Auctions wants to inform all bidders that the museum would love to exhibit the glove again via either a  loan (with plaque to lender if desired) or by donation (Ruth Museum is a 501c corp and would enable winner to take a charitable tax deduction). If interested contact our office for details. 10% of hammer price will be donated to the Ruth Museum.


Incredibly, this surviving Babe Ruth used glove is one used by the Babe during his formative years behind the walls of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys. As children we were all familiar with Babe Ruth's beginnings. His mother's death left a young Ruth free to find mischief on Baltimore's seedy waterfront. His chronic truancy and run ins with the police led to his father giving him up to the Jesuit brothers of St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys. It is there that the first baseball related photograph of the future slugger was taken. Every baseball fan knows it - a group of St. Mary's boys proudly posing for the camera upon winning the school's baseball championship.


Among the scrappy looking lads gazing back at us is a big, moon-faced kid with a mug that's instantly recognizable - Babe Ruth. This remarkable photo was snapped in 1912, and though it is noteworthy for numerous reasons, perhaps the thing that stands out the most is the glove young Ruth is wearing: a right-handed catcher's mitt. Ruth, of course, was a lefty, and made his name as a southpaw pitcher and then as a right fielder.


That the young Ruth is proudly posing with a right-handed catcher's mitt tells us two things. The first of which is the lack of proper equipment St. Mary's had available to outfit their wards. The St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys was not strictly an "orphanage" or "reform school" as it has come to be known, but a vocational school that specialized in teaching troubled boys a trade. Ruth was trained as a tailor, and in fact took pride demonstrating his skills learned as a boy by darning his own socks later in life. While athletics were offered to the boys as a way of instilling confidence, leadership and teamwork, it was the trades that took precedence. As such, the baseball equipment on hand at St. Mary's were mostly recycled or donated to the school. Left-handed catcher's mitts are a special order item today, so the chance of a left-handed Babe Ruth digging one out of an equipment barrel at St. Mary's in 1912 would have been nothing short of a miracle. Young Ruth, like all the other boys at St. Mary's simply had to make do with what they had.


The other reason Ruth posing with the right-handed catcher's mitt is significant is that it demonstrates something that is often forgotten when we remember the greatest slugger of all-time - he was a naturally gifted athlete. Ruth's total command of the game was such that he began his baseball life as a catcher on the fields of St. Mary's. The few surviving box scores of St. Mary's ballgames show the teenaged Ruth as a power-hitting catcher. It was only towards the very end of his time at St. Mary's that he was converted to a pitcher. And then later in has career he played all the outfield positions and liked warming up at first base before games.


Why Ruth began as a catcher is lost to time. Perhaps the mask offered a degree of anonymity to the boy whose awkward looks made him the butt ceaseless schoolyard name-calling. Or, maybe it was as simple as that was only spot open on the team. What ever his attraction to the position, the Babe tells us in his autobiography that Brother Matthias tried to convince him that a left handed catcher "just did not make sense". The determined Ruth none-the-less learned to catch using a right-handed mitt. Once receiving a pitch he would then hold the ball in his right hand, shake off the mitt and then switch hands to throw the ball back to the pitcher left handed. With this awkward production, it must have been extremely tempting for a baserunner to steal on Ruth, but the Babe's athletic prowess was such that he was able to speed up his motions in time to nab runners.


By the time Ruth was discovered by Jack Dunn of the minor league Baltimore Orioles, the kid from St. Mary's was a hard throwing southpaw pitcher and no longer needed a catcher's mitt. However this was in the spring of 1914, long before manufactures lavished free equipment on players in exchange for their endorsements. Players like Ruth were expected to purchase their own bats and gloves and it's likely the Babe took along his old catcher's mitt just in case it was needed.


Ruth was dominating the International League with 16 wins when he was sold to the Boston Red Sox mid-season. The Babe reported to Boston where he was given a few games to show what he could do before being farmed out to the minor league Providence Grays for the remainder of the 1914 season. There Ruth helped lead the Grays to the International League pennant and proved himself to be a rising star. As he would do throughout his life, Ruth quickly ingratiated himself with the local children. He never forgot the feeling of being a lonely and unwanted boy and he went out of his way to make kids feel special.


And that brings us back to that right-handed catcher's mitt. One of the places Ruth frequented during his time in Providence, Rhode Island was the McDonald Drug Store. Located on Elmwood Avenue, less than a mile away from Melrose Park, Grays home field, the Babe and his teammates would stop by to purchase rudimentary medical supplies to mend the cuts, bruises and strains that came with being a ballplayer. Through his trips to McDonalds, Ruth became friends with Edward Petschke, the young clerk at the store. Edward and his two brothers were fans of the Grays and often got into games for free by carrying the players equipment.


With his future in baseball firmly set as a pitcher, Ruth presented young Edward with his right-handed catchers mitt. Although Edward didn't play baseball, he kept the mitt as a treasured souvenir, even refusing to let his ball playing brothers use it. The mitt remained in the family, eventually ending up with Edward's nephew, Everett Prescott. To this new generation the mitt was just that - a mitt - and Everett used it to play ball. Everett Prescott went on to be the Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Engraving & Printing in Washington, DC, and his own son Craig in turn used Ruth's mitt growing up.


Through the decades it was always known that the treasured family heirloom once belonged to the Babe and might not have ever saw the light of day had it not been for a fortuitous meeting at a cookout in 1993. There Craig Prescott was introduced to another guest, Michael Gibbons who happened to be the Executive Director of the Babe Ruth Museum. Soon the Prescott family voted to loan the mitt to the museum where it became one of their most popular exhibits.


Now the Prescott family has decided to part with this treasure with a portion of the proceeds going to the Babe Ruth Museum. As any historical relic should, the Babe's mitt shows all of its 110-plus years. By the time it was issued to Ruth at St. Mary's, it was likely already well used. A few seasons on the school's sandlot certainly broke it in and a few generations of Petschke and Prescott boys brought it to the condition it is now. Constructed of steer hide with leather laces, the mitt is a "buckle-back model, though the wrist strap and buckle are no longer on the mitt. The manufacturer's label and leather stamping have been worn off and no long visible. Still discernible on the heel is what appears to be the model number "F150".


Equipment experts at PSA/DNA have researched all the available baseball glove catalogues from the era and found that the "F150" model was offered by the A.J. Reach Company of Philadelphia. However, PSA/DNA could not determine the manufacture of the glove. MEARS states the glove is a pre-1910 Reach. Goldin Auctions does not make any specific representation as to the manufacturer.  As a heavily used gamer, the mitt was repaired when needed, as can be seen by the added strip of rawhide and shoestrings used to re-lace it. The flap where the thumb fits is partially loose and can be fixed by glove repair or restoration if desired. There is no sports figure more revered than Babe Ruth and this well-loved catchers mitt was the tool used by an unwanted, poverty-stricken boy to make himself into an American icon and the complete embodiment of the American Dream.


Letters of Provenance from the Prescott Family and the Babe Ruth Museum as well as PSA/DNA (1G00267) and MEARS accompany the glove. It also comes with audio file recording taken in 1993 from the last remaining Petschke brother detailing how the mitt was acquired and their relationship with Babe Ruth. 10% of the hammer price will be donated to the Babe Ruth Museum on this item.

  It is important that bidders read all accompanying letters and documentation supplied with the glove. Here is one particular quote from PSA/DNA in their letter of authenticity that is particularly relevant.

" As with any glove from this era, baring a direct photo match, the probability of player use is based on the strength of the provenance that accompanies the glove. In this case, we have an extensive amount of provenance extending from the original acquisition in 1914, family possession till 1993, and from 1993 to the present on display at the Babe Ruth Museum. We consider the provenance to be a factual representation of the glove’s history as recalled by the Petschke family and the Babe Ruth Museum. The family and the museum attribute the glove as being that of Babe Ruth while a member of the St Mary’s Industrial School For Boys baseball team and later the 1914 Providence Grays of the International League. Two photo’s of Ruth at St. Mary’s with a right-handed catcher’s mitt are included with the documentation."


This item is also a great candidate for restoration (which we can help facilitate if desired). In addition, on behalf of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum we wish to extend the offer that the winner is invited to display the glove at the museum for as long as he/she wishes with a plaque that can include their name as loaning the glove for display. Video below is an 11-minute audio recording from 1992 between the Babe Ruth Museum and Irving Petschke, the younger brother of Edward, which details the history of the glove.

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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $125,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $334,600.00
Estimate: $250,000+
Number Bids: 10
Auction closed on Sunday, May 8, 2016.
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