Spring, 2017 Premier Auction - Closes April 1, 2017
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/2/2017

Of the many items that we have offered for sale in our auctions, it could be that this one is our favorite.  It may not have the panache of a T206 Wagner or a Babe Ruth jersey, but it is likely the only one of its kind, and it represents everything that made baseball the national pastime in its earliest days.

Picture this: the year is 1934, and a 10-year-old boy listening to the radio learns about a contest involving Babe Ruth.  First prize, a trip to Florida with Ruth for Spring Training, seems out of reach.  But perhaps by entering, he can win a lesser prize, like a baseball or a glove.

A few weeks later, young Gerard Knapp of Menands, NY receives a letter from the Babe himself, telling him he's qualified for the "World Series Finals" of his contest.  By simply choosing an "all-star" team and explaining why he's chosen the players he had, he could be one of just fifty boys to accompany the Sultan Of Swat to Florida.  And on March 5, the young boy receives a Western Union Telegram from the Babe, that he won the contest and would be traveling to Florida!  Alone, without his parents, but accompanied by "experienced leaders."

Everything about this sets off alarm bells with even the least experienced parents, but 1934 was a different time, and this really happened.  Every piece of this lot was saved by the Knapp family, chronicling the young boy's adventure, from his entry into the contest, his instructions on how the trip would work, and even the newspaper article announcing "Menands Boy Will Be Guest of Babe Ruth in Florida Camp."

The 1934 Spring Training was particularly newsworthy, as much news was made of Babe Ruth's physical conditioning.  It would be Ruth's final Spring in a Yankee uniform, and the 40-year-old superstar reflected on his career often, in a host of news stories across the country.   On March 25 of that spring, Ruth hit a home run off Boston's Huck Betts that was measured as having traveled an amazing 624 feet - just two days after leaving the company of young Gerard Knapp and 49 other boys who were winners of the radio contest.

Included in the lot is every piece needed to put this magical story together: 1) Babe Ruth Photo: 8x10" photo of Ruth with facsimile autograph "To My Pal," from the Babe Ruth Boys Club.  This photo is identical to that of the 1934 Quaker Oats or Esso promotional photos, though clearly much more scarce.  Photo is in GOOD condition, with writing in the upper-left corner reading "Thanks, Gerald Knapp, NY, winner of my contest" in handwriting that is clearly not that of Babe Ruth. 2) February 16, 1934 Letter:  Addressed to Knapp from Babe Ruth (with facsimile autograph), containing instructions on how to enter the World Series Finals of the contest.  Instructions are quite explicit for a ten-year-old boy!  3) Western Union Telegram: Dated March 5, from Babe Ruth to Gerald Knapp, congratulating him on winning the contest.  The telegram reads Congratulations you are one of fifty winners free trip to Saint Petersburg Florida as my guest accompanied by experienced leaders starting March seventeenth returning march twenty third stop.  Letter to your parents giving details and general information follows stop.  Please send snapshot of yourself to me promptly two eighty five Madison Avenue NewYorkCity stop.  Looking forward to meeting you and giving you swell time = Babe Ruth.  4) Newspaper article with picture: handwritten date of March 15, 1934, featuring a photo of a happy Gerard Knapp, along with details of the contest.  Very well-worn, with tears at the folds.  5) Letter to the parent of Gerard Knapp, from Rev. Frank Linn Freet: dated March 10, 1934, the letter provides some instructions on the trip.  The letter makes reference to a requirement that the boy wear his "Babe Ruth sweater" (ostensibly part of the prize, lost to history), and makes the first reference to what is presumably the sponsor of the contest - Standard Oil.  6) Second letter to parents: entitled "General Information For The Parents Of The 50 Boys Who Have Won," the letter names the five counselors and their experience with young people.  The letter provides instructions on how to get the children out of school (!), and details the boys' itinerary (ostensibly, girls were not eligible), which included a reception with the Mayor, introduction to the Yankees players at practice, sightseeing, baseball games, dinner with Babe Ruth, movies, attendance at Yankee games, and such.  It lists out clothing and articles to bring (plenty of handkerchiefs!)  7) Schedule and Instructions: more instructions on the trip and itinerary.  8) Songs & Cheers for the 50 Boys: Lyrics to Ruth-related songs and chants for the boys to sing on the train (including "Babe Ruth" to the tune of "Dixie."  9) Luggage Tag: Gerard Knapp's luggage tag from the Babe Ruth training camp  11) Letter from Frank Linn Freet: A complete list containing the names and addresses of the 50 boys who attended the camp.  12) Postcard from Gerard: A postcard to young Gerard's parents - "Having great time with Yankees and lovable kind Babe Ruth." 13) Letter from Lake County Groves Corporation: A letter to Knapp regarding a gift box of grapefruit from the president of the Florida Citrus Advertising Association.  Written on the reverse is a letter from one of Knapp's parents in response, written as if it was Knapp.  14) Real Photo Postcard: Babe Ruth RPPC on which is written in pencil "Thanks Gerard Knapp."  Unfortunately the postcard - which we have never seen before - is stuck to a Type 1 photo of Yankees catcher Al DeVormer.  Unfortunately, the DeVormer photo has nothing to do with the Knapp collection, and was likely adhered to it much later (DeVormer was long out of baseball by 1934).  We have no idea how the postcard is affixed to the photo, but it is a very interesting postcard.

We cannot imagine that another document of this trip exists; just 50 winners attended and it is extremely unlikely that such extensive documentation and memorabilia relating to this contest survived.  The photo and postcard alone are quite possibly unique.

Our research indicates that Gerard Knapp enlisted in the military during World War II and passed away at age 68 in 1995.  He did, however, take the time to preserve a large amount of information regarding a contest that was, until now, lost to history.  An outstanding document, chronicling the excitement of winning a chance to spend time with the greatest player of all-time, the leap of faith that parents took in putting their children on a train with strangers, and a detailed itinerary of what was likely one of Gerard Knapp's greatest memories.  

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Incredible, Unique 1934 Babe Ruth Boys' Club Contest Winner Collection w/Previously Unseen Photo Premium & Real Photo Postcard
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Bidding
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $500
Final prices include buyers premium.: $861
Number Bids: 5
Auction closed on Sunday, April 2, 2017.
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