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Ruth's Visit to Dunsmuir Captured in Photographs

Bill Wagner - Babe Waxpak by Bill Wagner, "Babe Waxpak"
September 21, 2005

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Dear Babe: In an estate sale in Dunsmuir, Calif., we found an old picture of Babe Ruth. It was taken at the ballpark in Dunsmuir in 1924. The picture is approximately 3-1/2 x 5. It was in an album of a woman who had just died. It apparently was shot by a guy who played in the game against or with the Babe. One question, an auction house in Dallas said it sold the same picture. Any idea why there are multiple copies of this same picture? The picture is in pretty good condition. One corner has a slight bend and it has writing on the front (image attached).
Dave Andrade, Redding, Calif.

There are many explanations for multiple photos in varying sizes. Assuming it's just one photo, whoever took it simply made prints. Another possibility is more than one person snapped similar shots. If you surf over to Dunsmuir.com and find the page with info on the Babe's appearance, you'll see the same photo was supplied courtesy of the Cave Springs Motel, so there obviously are other prints floating around.

As for the value, a photo this size with the writing (which could be matted over) is worth $50-$200, said Robert Lifson, president of Robert Edwards Auctions in New Jersey. "Photographs, especially originals not for publication, are a particularly good value for collectors," Lifson said. "On photos like these, it is very subjective, but compared to other unique Ruth items, this is a pretty good deal for collectors," he said.

That original Babe's visit occurred on Oct. 22, 1924, when Ruth played an exhibition game in Dunsmuir as part of an off-season barnstorming tour. Dunsmuir Web site indicates the game was sponsored by the Dunsmuir Lions Club with 900 in the stands.

Dear Babe: My question is about George Earnshaw (No. 38) who played for the Philadelphia Athletics. I have a pin that is three quarters of an inch in diameter with a color picture of him. The kids wore them on their beanies back then.
Ruth West, Colldale, Pa.

The No. 38 is the key to tracking down a value. It's not his uniform number, but the number of an Obit Gum pin that was produced in the 1932-1934 timeframe, which also lets folks know when kids were putting pins on beanies. The Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards from the editors of Sports Collectors Digest lists the pin at $22.50 in near-mint condition, while Beckett's Almanac of Baseball Cards has it at $15 for a pin in excellent-near mint condition.

Dear Babe: My dad was remodeling his home and found a mint copy of a Long Beach Press-Telegram promo supplement "Dodger Blue" from October 1988 commemorating the Dodgers World Series win over the Oakland A's.
John Dupuy, Lakewood, Calif.

As I've said before, there's not much of a market these days for newspapers or their supplements, especially from more recent times. Then again, everything has some value. I'd say $25.

Dear Babe: I'm hoping you can help me with a couple of Ted Williams cards. The first one is a 1941 Play Ball. It's No. 14. It's in good condition, but the corners are not perfect. It also has a couple of small smudges. The second card is a Topps card. It's No 2. It's in good condition too with the corners almost perfect, and it's not dirty or smudged. It does have a thumbtack hole on the upper right corner.
Don Humphreys, Atlanta

If it's an original 1941 Playball Ted Williams card, it's a keeper. Beckett and Tuff Stuff have a range of $1,500 to $1,725. The soft corners and smudges will cut that value way down. As for the Topps card, it's from 1955 and lists for $600, but the thumbtack hole is a value killer. When I was at The National card show in Chicago, I spoke with a number of folks and all agreed a thumbtack hole probably makes the card worth 10 percent of top value at best, which would be $60 in this case. Of course, if it's small hole, a collector might be willing to pay more, but it's probably going to be a tough sell.

About the author
Bill Wagner is a veteran journalist with 37 years in the newspaper business as well as being a former Army combat correspondent in Vietnam. He developed the Babe Waxpak sports card column in the 1980s and took over authorship in 1993, expanding into sports memorabilia and autographs as well as answering questions on cards.

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