Thursday, April 02, 2009

How Did I Miss This?

Last year REA (Robert Edwards Auctions) sold a game-worn Brooklyn Dodgers Baseball cap I failed to notice. Now, this ain't no regular game-used cap of a Brooklyn regular, but a cap worn by one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform- Babe Ruth. He spent one lone season with the Brooklyn club in 1938 as a first base coach in hopes it would one day lead to a regular coaching job in the majors. Unfortunately, his years of cavorting around as a playboy and heavy partier created a stigma that followed him in his later years. Teams did not believe he could lead a team since he didn't display the kind of leadership qualities desired at the time.
This particular garment is of special significance in that it not only represents the final chapter in Ruth's Major League career but also the close of his hope to be a Major League manager. Although Ruth openly campaigned for a managerial position in the years immediately following his retirement as a player, offers were not forthcoming. Ruth felt particularly slighted that the Yankees had not given him an opportunity to manage. His only official association with any club following his 1935 retirement as a player came on June 19, 1938, when he was hired as the Brooklyn Dodgers' first-base coach by general manager Larry MacPhail. Ruth took the job with the explicit understanding that he would be given an opportunity to eventually take over for then-manager Burleigh Grimes. Unfortunately, the Dodgers were less than truthful with him. Whereas Ruth thought he was being groomed for the manager's job, the Dodgers looked upon him strictly as a drawing card. Right from the start Ruth was ordered by management to put on pregame "home run displays" and stay late to sign autographs for fans. To his chagrin, Ruth quickly realized that he had been duped once again. (The Braves, in 1935, also signed Ruth with the false promise of a future managerial position.) Ruth had no interest in being a sideshow attraction; he wanted to be manager. Disgusted with the situation, he left the Dodgers at season's end. Unfortunately, his dream of becoming a manager never came to fruition; thus his Major League career came to an official close with the Dodgers at the end of the 1938 season.
Another interesting thing about the cap is its origins. It comes from the Barry Halper Collection. This was a collection considered to be one of the finest ever assembled. It sold for $60,000.00.
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