Monday, September 2, 2013

1960 Fleer Babe Ruth photo source found

A baseball card collector probably always has a soft spot for his first Babe Ruth card.

I know that even today, when I am no longer actively collecting, I still get the urge to reacquire a 1960 Fleer Babe Ruth All-Time Greats card.

My first had been a wax-pack find as a nine-year-old baseball card nut. 

My dad had been especially generous in buying me packs of the Fleer ATGs. Almost every trip to one of the corner grocery-drug stores in the neighborhood yielded a pack.

On the walk home he would tell me stories about the "old-timers" whose cards I'd added to my collection. Those cards and that father-son bonding helped make me a lifelong fan of baseball history.

I recently discovered the source of the photograph that Fleer chose for that 1960 Ruth card. 

The photo was taken on June 20, 1948 at Yankee Stadium. The occasion was ostensibly the 25th anniversary of Yankee Stadium and a tribute to the World Champion 1923 Yankees, but in reality it was the team's send-off to its greatest star -- less than two months prior to Ruth's death.

Among the dozen or more photos published in the June 23 issue of The Sporting News was a photo headlined "Babe Takes One More Swing as Yank." It is evident that the TSN photo was snapped just prior to the follow-through shown on the Fleer card. That photo was uncredited in the paper.

Ruth also appeared on the front page of that issue, in a five-column presentation of the iconic photo of the Babe, leaning on Bob Feller's bat, addressing the crowd. That photo, however, was wrongly credited to Bob Olean of the New York Daily News. The following week, TSN ran a correction, crediting the picture to the N.Y. Herald-Tribune.

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