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Lot # 640: 1934 Tour of Japan Album w/Team Signature Sheet and Original Photographs (PSA)

Starting Bid: $5,000.00

Bids: 24 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "2024 Summer Classic",
which ran from 6/9/2024 12:00 PM to
6/29/2024 10:00 PM

The 1934 tour of Japan is perhaps the most celebrated of all overseas baseball tours, mainly because it was the only such tour to include Babe Ruth. While nearly all souvenirs related to the tour are scarce, the rarest and most significant of those are the tour albums, which were issued only to the participating players and a few accompanying VIPs. Presented here is one of those seldom-seen albums, which includes all three signature sheets of the American and Japanese team members, as well as twenty-three of the twenty-four original photos.

The United States team-signed sheet is the first page in the album and features the black fountain-pen signatures (averaging 8/10) of the twenty team members: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Connie Mack (Mgr.). Lefty Gomez, Earl Averill, Charlie Gehringer, Lefty O'Doul, Bing Miller, Eric McNair, Rabbit Warstler (in green fountain pen), Frank Hayes, John Quinn, Joe Cascarella, Robert Schroeder (the Philadelphia A's secretary), Doc Ebling (team trainer), Moe Berg, Earl Whitehill, Clint Brown, and Sotaro Suzuki (the club's Japanese interpreter). 

Each of the twenty-three photos (11x9") in the album has been mounted upon its respective page, as issued. The first photo is a team composite, featuring portrait images of each team member, while the remainder capture the tourists both on and off the field during the trip. Babe Ruth is pictured in eleven of the photos, with Gehrig appearing in seven (several picture both of them). Additional images include the Empress of Japan (cruise ship with Americans) pulling into port, the welcoming ceremony, Gehrig, Ruth & others receiving garments from Japanese women (on the boat), Ruth riding in car during a parade (waving American and Japanese flags), the American team eating in a restaurant, the American team posing together (off the field), the American & Japanese teams together (in uniform), an aerial shot of Meiji Jingu Stadium, and Ruth at the plate. Two of the photos (Ruth in the parade and the American and Japanese teams posing on the field) display moderate tears, otherwise all are in Excellent condition overall. 

One of the most interesting aspects of this tour was the participation by journeyman catcher Moe Berg, who was a  Princeton graduate and a polyglot. Berg was a last-minute addition to the star-studded roster, but not for reasons relating to baseball (he was a lifetime .243 hitter). Unbeknownst to all at the time, Berg was recruited by the OSS (the forerunner to the CIA) to act as a spy during the trip. Berg took surveillance films of the cities they visited, many of which were later useful in Doolittle's raid of Japan in World War II, and gathered general intelligence. Berg continued to serve in the OSS through World War II and later. 

The album (15x11x3") is missing its original covers, but has been professionally rebound with leather boards. Two small sections of the original cover, featuring Japanese lettering, have been affixed to the new front cover. It should be noted that very few of the surviving albums are complete. Most of the time the signature sheets have been removed, as well as many of the photos. Also, the original covers are most often damaged and/or missing. This is the second-most complete example we have ever handled and one that would be an outstanding addition to any advanced collection. Full LOA from PSA for the signature sheet.

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