The Day Babe Ruth Called His Shot

By Gregory Krisilas

A rare baseball signed by then-Presidential candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt and  six members of the 1932 Chicago Cubs, almost certainly signed at the World Series game between the Cubs and the New York Yankees where Babe Ruth famously “called his shot” before hitting a home run into the center-field bleachers will be sold by PBA Galleries on May 28th, 2015. The baseball is an official National League ball, evidently “game-used” before it was signed. The six Cubs who signed it were all on the Chicago ball club at the same time only during the 1932 season, which was the only year they were all on the same team, confirming the 1932 date. Franklin Roosevelt, an avid baseball fan, had traveled to the Midwest from San Francisco at the end of September, 1932, in an effort to increase his profile in the American heartland where his rival Herbert Hoover still had a fairly robust following. With Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak, FDR attended the October 1st opening game of the series in Chicago following two losses by the Cubs in New York.  An interesting side note – Anton Cermak would be assassinated four months later while again in the company of FDR.

Roosevelt would throw out the first ball, but that action would be little-remembered when contrasted with the heroics of George Herman “Babe” Ruth, the Great Bambino. With the scored tied 5-5 in the fifth inning, and the Babe at the plate, he made a gesture toward center field, some say pointed, and then launched a solo home run into the bleachers to break the tie. Lou Gerhig, next up, hit a second home run, the Yankees won the game 7-5, and went on to sweep the series. This would be the last home run Ruth hit in the post-season.

Franklin Roosevelt was not alone among U.S. Presidents with a love for the American pastime, but he was definitely among the more enthusiastic of fans. He, along with other presidents (or in this instance, presidential candidates), was not averse to signing souvenir balls, but the association of this ball with not only the longest-serving president in American history but also with one of the most famous episodes in World Series lore, make it a unique and extraordinarily desirable memento. The baseball is conservatively estimated at $2,000 to $3,000, but might very likely sell for a good deal more.