Extraordinary photo featuring near-pristine signature examples of the three greatest sluggers of the prewar era: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx. The sepia image captures the trio posing together on the field at an unknown locale during the famous 1934 Tour of Japan, with all three wearing their "special All-Americans" baseball uniforms. Each player has boldly signed the photo vertically in black fountain pen upon his respective image. All of the signatures grade "9" in our opinion, but it must be noted that both the Foxx and Gehrig examples would easily grade "10" if not for the tiniest amount of brushing to the last one or two letters of their respective names. Signed photos of Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx are practically nonexistent. This is the only example we can ever recall offering that pictures just the three AND has been signed by all three. The photo itself is a rarity and originates directly from a family in Japan, whose relative obtained the signatures personally in 1934. We have seen only two other signed examples of this photo in all our years, one of which was a June 2016 public auction sale of $130,016.
This is one of the most significant multisigned Hall of Fame photos we have ever seen because of the iconic stature of all three players. Ruth of course, saved baseball after the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal by single-handedly ending the dead ball era with his prodigious home run numbers. He remains, and probably always will be, the most recognizable and famous sports personality in American history. Both Gehrig and Foxx arrived a few years later, in the mid 1920s, and were the only two players to challenge Ruth in the slugging department for the next decade. From 1926 to 1936, only the names of Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx appear atop the leader board in home runs for the American League. The were also the ONLY three players in the American League to hit over 40 home runs in a season during that eleven-year span. Ruth accomplished it seven times, Gehrig five times, and Foxx four times. Gehrig's achievements are even more extraordinary in that he did it while forging his remarkable streak of playing in 2,130 consecutive games. Foxx, nicknamed "The Beast" for his sheer physical strength (Lefty Gomez once remarked that even his hair had muscles) was one of only three players to seriously challenge Ruth's single-season home run record prior to Roger Maris breaking it in 1961 (Foxx hit 58 home runs in 1932). Foxx was also the second player, after Ruth, to hit over 500 home runs in his career. (Had Gehrig not succumbed to his tragic illness he would have easily surpassed 500 home runs as well.)
Given their combined accomplishments, one can easily see why Ruth, Gehrig, and Foxx were the biggest stars on the 1934 Tour of Japan. The tour was also probably the last opportunity for a fan to obtain the signatures of all three players at one event because Ruth was released by the Yankees when he returned from the trip. He played one final season with the Boston Braves in 1935 before retiring. Gehrig's signature, naturally, is the rarest of the three due to his untimely death in 1941. The photo, which has been neatly trimmed to its current dimensions of 5.75 x 7.75 inches, displays a photographer's embossed credit stamp in the lower right corner. A few minor surface wrinkles are evident, as are small areas of both surface paper loss and light adhesive residue on the reverse from its having once been mounted in an album. Without reference to the trim, the photo remains in Excellent condition overall. Encapsulated by PSA/DNA and full LOA from James Spence/JSA. Opening Bid $25,000. Estimate $50,000+.