The world was so very different back in 1916. There had never been a World War or a Great Depression. Influenza was still two years away. Swastikas, like those seen in the border design here, actually symbolized good luck and prosperity. And Babe Ruth was a pitcher. For the Red Sox.
The boyish 21-year-old southpaw was making mound history with the first 13 of his eventual 29 scoreless World Series innings—a record that may never be broken. Not yet the Sultan of Swat, he had just 7 career home runs under his belt.
Over the next 15 years, war would reign, influenza would decimate, the stock market would crash, Nazism would subvert the swastika, and Ruth would slug his way to becoming perhaps the most famous figure on the planet. So much sweeping change, so fast. Little did the Babe know in 1916 that he and his generation held Pandora's Box in their collective hands.
All this to say that Ruth's Red Sox photos transcend the national pastime and bear the full weight of a global revolution. No wonder then that examples of this museum-worthy relic have sold at auction for upwards of $20,000. The Bambino sits front and center, in the midst of fellow future Hall of Famers Harry Hooper and Herb Pennock, as well as Deadball-era stars Duffy Lewis, Jack Barry and Bill Carrigan.
The 4-7/8" x 6-7/8" photo itself boasts a fine central image area of the players, with surrounding wear that includes two upper creases and heavy lower-edge wear. It's loosely attached to the ornate, 9x11 mount, which is technically FR/GD but nevertheless retains bold graphics and displays quite beautifully.
"Sometimes I still can't believe what I saw," recounted Hooper of Babe's arrival in Boston. "This 19-year-old kid, crude, poorly educated, only lightly brushed by the social veneer we call civilization, gradually transformed into the idol of American youth and the symbol of baseball the world over—a man loved by more people and with an intensity of feeling that perhaps has never been equaled before or since."