An autographed baseball that might be the first home run Babe Ruth launched into the house that he built is heading to the auction block.
The ball, signed by Ruth at the "New Yankee Field" and dated Feb. 14, 1923, corresponds to the day that Ruth was called to the new stadium to inspect the park and take some swings. In four inches of snow, Marshall Hunt of the Daily News reported, as recapped in the 2006 book "The Big Bam," that Ruth stood in a place where the batter's box would be two months later and hit home runs while wearing a suit.
Collector Joel Platt said he got the ball from the family of a person who worked on the field and kept it in his collection for decades before consigning it to Goldin Auctions, which is having a Babe Ruth-themed auction in July at the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum in Baltimore.
"It's rare that you find something in this industry that you didn't even know existed," Goldin Auctions president Ken Goldin said.
Goldin said Platt was told the story, but had never corroborated it with media at the time. It was Goldin who started researching the date and came upon the account of Ruth's winter trip to the Bronx.
"I think the Yankees should buy this," Goldin said.
The Ruth signature on the ball, which is not on an official American League ball as it wasn't used in a game, has been verified by two authentication companies. Also in the auction, which is taking place July 12-13, is one of Ruth's earliest authenticated game-used bats and a promissory note, issued by the Yankees to the Boston Red Sox, that was part of the famous Babe Ruth sale in 1919.
A ball said to be Babe Ruth's first home run in a game at Yankee Stadium -- launched on Opening Day of 1923 -- was sold in 1998 for $126,500. The bat that Ruth used to hit the ball sold for $1.265 million in 2004.