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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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Photograph; classic 8 inch by 10 inch photo of a young Ruth; signed and inscribed by him; late-1920s; sold for $4,140. Photo courtesy of Hunt Auctions.
Pittsburgh resident Emmet Cavanagh headed to Forbes Field on May 25, 1935 in hopes of watching the Pittsburgh Pirates whip the Boston Braves. He had no idea he was about to become part of baseball history.

Cavanagh was just sitting down in the right field stands. Babe Ruth was on deck and Cavanagh looked up as Ruth smacked a two run home run right toward him. He reached up, caught Ruth’s 712th home run ball and sat back down to watch The Babe score two more home runs.

The last home run Babe Ruth ever hit cleared the roof at the old Forbes Field that day and Ruth was the first to do it.

After his 714th home run in the 7th inning Ruth was removed from the game. He went 4-for-4, drove in 6 runs and hit 3 home runs in an 11-7 loss to the Pirates.

En route to the visitor’s locker room Ruth stopped and sat for a moment on the Pirates bench next to rookie pitcher Mace Brown.

“Boy, that one felt good,” Ruth said to Brown. Little did Ruth know it would be his last Major League home run. Five days later Ruth played for the Braves in Philadelphia, hurt his knee, and that was it.

After the Pirate game Cavanagh tracked Ruth down at the Schenley Hotel where he was staying in Pittsburgh and got him to autograph the ball. Cavanagh said Ruth showed no interest in keeping the ball. He signed it on the side panel and handed it back to him.

Randy Moore, Ruth’s friend and teammate took Ruth aside after the Pittsburgh game and begged him to go out on top and retire that very day.

“Aawww Kid, I’ll hit twenty more before the end of the year,” Ruth replied.

Ruth could still hit but not consistently. He was tired and overweight. He could barely trot around the bases. His fielding was bad.

You have to wonder if he knew that that day in Pittsburgh would be the end of the glory run would he have walked off the field for good.

When Ruth died at age 53 in August of 1948 The New York Times described him as, "a figure unprecedented in American life. A born showman off the field and a marvelous performer on it, he had an amazing flair for doing the spectacular at the most dramatic moment.”

Ruth was America’s first sports superstar. He brought people to the ballpark and made them happy just to be there.

The historic significance of the Cavanagh baseball speaks for itself.

On July 14, Hunt Auctions featured a selection of Ruth memorabilia in its MLB Live Auction at DHL All-Star Fanfest held at Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

Included in the sale was the signed Cavanagh, Babe Ruth 712th career home run baseball with accompanying provenance. It sold for $172,500.

Here are current values for other Ruth items sold in the auction.

Babe Ruth

Luncheon Menu; honoring legendary slugger; single page; July 25, 1947; signed by Ruth; additional signature includes Carl McGaffin; 5 inches by 8 inches approximate; $3,738.

Photograph; classic 8 inch by 10 inch photo of a young Ruth; signed and inscribed by him; late-1920s; $4,140.

Home Run Baseball; 712th; Emmet Cavanagh’s souvenir ball caught in Pittsburgh’s Forbes Field in the right field stands; in Ruth’s last professional career game; 1935; $172,500.

Baseball Bat; professional model; Louisville Slugger 125; inscribed and presented to Broadway starlet Tesa Kosta; circa 1924; $195,500.

Hat; New York Yankees professional model navy blue cap; NY logo; heavy usage wear; circa 1920s-1930s; dating from the height of Ruth’s indomitable reign; $327,750.

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