Babe Ruth's $10,000 baseball card could be 'big in Japan'

In the early 1900s, Matsutara Shoriki, who owned a Japanese newspaper, decided to see just how popular and successful baseball could be with the Japanese population.

Shoriki (later known as "the father of professional Japanese baseball") helped support the game by sponsoring a tour which invited American major league players to play against Japanese college all-stars.

In 1934, Connie Mack, the long-time manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, was asked to staff a team of some of the best players in Major League Baseball, and bring them to Japan for an 18-game match-up against Japan's Big-Six University League.

Mack compiled an amazing roster of some of the best baseball talent in America, while Shoriki did the same with the team comprised of Japanese talent from the "Big Six".

Besides the Babe, the Major League All-Stars team included: Eric McNair, Philadelphia Athletics; Charlie Gehringer, Detroit Tigers; Lou Gehrig, the New York Yankees and Jimmie Foxx, The Philadelphia Athletics.

Star of the Major League All-Stars team, Babe Ruth... or 'Beibu Rusu!'

Earl Averill, Cleveland Indians; Bing Miller, Philadelphia Athletics; Moe Berg, Washington Nationals/Cleveland Indians; and Frankie Hayes, Philadelphia Athletics also made the cut.

The welcome for the American ballplayers was impressive. In total, over 500,000 Japanese came out to greet the baseball stars when they first arrived, and the biggest crowd-pleaser was the Babe.

Babe Ruth rode through Tokyo waving American and Japanese flags to the enthusiastic fans, who yelled out "Beibu Rusu!"

The games in Japan were staged at various stadiums including: Meiji-Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, Koshien Stadium in Kobe, Yagiyama Baseball Field in Sendai and others throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the Americans pounded the Japanese, winning all eighteen games, against the team comprised of Japan's best (eleven of whom would go on to be members of Japan's Baseball Hall of Fame).

Babe, for his part, hit 13 homeruns during the 18 game stint in Japan, and electrified the Japanese crowd in the process. Many Japanese accredit the 1934 barnstorming tour as a big factor in making professional baseball possible in Japan.

Regency-Superior Auctions is offering four autographed Japanese baseball cards by members of the 1934 American All-Star team: Babe Ruth, Lefty Gomez, Jimmi Foxx, and Earl Whitehill.

This Ruth autograph is also on the market, priced £7,500 ($12,375)

Each card is a sepia toned photographic card with a Japanese inscription at upper left. The cards are certified authentic and slabbed by the PSA-DNA, and range in estimate from $1,000 to $10,000.

These cards along with 1,800 lots of other collectible items go on the auction block on Saturday, June 19 at Regency-Superior's gallery in St. Louis, Missouri.

Earlier this year, a signed baseball bearing the autographs of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig auctioned at Cordier Antiques & Auctions in Pennsylvania, US.

The historic ball - signed by the stars at an exhibition game at Dexter Park - was caught by one lucky bidder for a bargain $4,500.

It was certainly a great investment. Other Ruth autographs, like this one which is currently available on the market, can command much higher prices and offer good value appreciation.

Last year, Babe Ruth's 'most important bat' auctioned in the US, swinging towards an incredible final hammer price of $537,750.



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