Family Heirloom Treasure
1918 Babe Ruth Autographed Baseball
My family has been a baseball family going back for over a century. Our long tenure as baseball collectors has allowed us to pick up some pretty cool treasures that become family heirlooms passed down through generations.
It all started with my great grandfather. He lived and breathed baseball since the day he was born. As an autograph hound, he would wait outside the players entrance of Fenway Park hoping to catch any ballplayers who were coming and going from the clubhouse. The one autograph my great grandfather was constantly after was the star pitcher of the 1916 World Series Red Sox - Babe Ruth.
My great grandfather and some of his friends had finished a pickup game. They decided to go down to Fenway Park to see if they could catch some of the players arriving before their game. He brought two balls with him, one for Babe Ruth’s autograph, and one for the rest of the players to sign. It took some waiting and some yelling, but by the end of the afternoon he had left with Ruth’s autograph. By some miracle, he managed to keep it in pristine condition till the day he passed it along to my grandfather, who then passed it along to my father.
Flash forward 100 years and here I am at my parent’s house, sitting with my father and staring at the Babe Ruth autographed ball. Where the ink was once bold and black, it is now a faded light grey color. However, the signature is still very clearly the Babe’s.
I know what’s about to happen next, the ball is about to become mine. Before my dad takes the ball out of it’s glass case and hands it to me we joke about the first time he ever showed it to me.
“Why would anybody want THAT baseball?” I asked confusedly. “I mean he cursed us, we may never win the World Series again!”
I may not have been around to experience all the playoff heartbreak live, but I certainly heard about it. The way my grandfather had told the story, he was the reason behind all the Red Sox’s postseason failures since their last World Series win in 1918. After Ruth was traded to the Yankees, it was downhill from there. Sometimes the Curse of the Bambino was the only explanation for what was happening to the Red Sox.
Enos Slaughter scoring all the way from first base in 1946; Bucky F***ing Dent’s three run home run in the 1978 playoff— his fifth of the entire year; the Boston Massacre of 1978 ; Denny Galehouse (8–8) pitching a 1984 playoff game instead of Mel Parnell (15–8) or Ellis Kinder (10–7). And maybe the worse of them all, the one that led many to believe that there must actually be a curse on this team; Bill Buckner letting a ball right through his legs in 1986. Before I got too deep down that rabbit hole I’ll just say — four game seven losses in four World Series appearances.
Sorry if that just dredged up some pretty dark memories for you. Some didn’t believe in the Curse of the Bambino, others did, but at age 8, I was part of the latter group.
I was incredulous. I couldn’t believe that my parents would keep such a cursed object in the house. Before my father could explain the historical significance of the ball, I said, “Lets burn it. Maybe that will reverse the curse.”
My father laughed harder than I’ve ever heard him laugh before and finally got on to explaining to me why we could never - in a million years - burn a baseball signed by Babe Ruth.
Obviously I have come around and would never burn our Babe Ruth signed baseball. But thankfully, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and I was finally able to let go of the thought that the baseball itself was cursed.
Babe Ruth is, and always will be, considered on of the best players to ever play the game. It’s surreal to think about his contributions to the sport. His ability to both pitch and hit at an elite level was revolutionary, he hit home runs at an unprecedented rate, and some may even go as far to say he saved baseball after the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.
My great grandfather didn’t know that his ball would become such a treasure. In many ways, we just got lucky. But that’s a huge part of the hobby. Whether you inherited a family heirloom or got a big hit opening blind pack, you have to have luck on your side.
#JoinTheHunt and pick up some packs of Baseball Treasure today. Maybe you’ll pull your favorite player, maybe you’ll pull a silver coin, you could even pull one of the gold coins. No matter what you’ll get a cool treasure, but you never know, you might just get extra lucky.