Graded GOOD+ 2.5 by SGC (submitted by REA). The M101-6 set was produced by Chicago publisher Felix Mendelsohn and offered in the pages of the Sporting News over a period of several years (approximately 1917-1920). This card of Babe Ruth is extremely significant not just as the key card of this rare set, but also as the very first card ever to feature Babe Ruth as a member of the New York Yankees. It is also a newly discovered example. This card, along with ten other M101-6 Felix Mendelsohn cards (all of which are featured in this auction) originate from the same consignor. According to our consignor, he received these cards decades ago from his neighbor, who was elderly and lived alone (our consignor and his family looked after the gentleman during his later years and the neighbor often gave them items as tokens of appreciation for all their help). Interestingly, the neighbor told him that he obtained these cards as a kid and for some reason saved them (he was not a card collector; these were the only cards he had). Our consignor never gave them much thought at the time and they sat forgotten in storage all these years until he just recently rediscovered them.
Earlier issued versions of this card identify Ruth as a member of the Red Sox. When Ruth was sold to the Yankees, just before production of this set ceased, the team listed on Ruth's card was changed from Boston to the Yankees to reflect his new team affiliation. Close examination of the photograph, which remains unchanged in both versions, reveals that Ruth is in fact wearing a Red Sox uniform on this card. This photograph of Ruth is also the very same image that was used on Ruth's smaller Sporting News (M101-4/5) card. Because he had just become a Yankee, there apparently was no time to get a picture of him in pinstripes. It is possible this card was issued just after Ruth's sale to the Yankees and prior to the start of the 1920 season. In the winter of 1919, in a deal that remains the most famous transaction in sports history, Ruth was sold by Boston owner Harry Frazee to the Yankees for $100,000 and a $300,000 loan. The card (4-3/8 x 6-1/2 inches) presents as Excellent, but it has been encapsulated as GOOD+ by SGC due to a chip out of the upper right corner. The blank reverse is fairly clean with just a few light stains. There has been a tremendous surge in the value of early Ruth collectibles in recent years, especially in cards such as the Sporting News M101-4/5, and the offered M101-6 presents a superb opportunity to acquire a card featuring the same image with the significance of presenting Ruth as a Yankee for the very first time. The M101-6 Babe Ruth is considerably rarer than the M101-4/5 Babe Ruth (which has risen dramatically in value over the past several years), perhaps by a factor of ten. This is an outstanding, fascinating, and very rarely seen example of one of the most significant of all Babe Ruth cards, and one that would be an extremely important highlight in even the most advanced collection. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000++.