In 1934, on his only international barnstorming tour, baseball immortal Babe Ruth wore just one uniform.
That uniform – consisting of a jersey, pants and socks – will be part of a special exhibit at the completely renovated World of Little League: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store. The exhibit can be seen as part of the regular museum admission price, and is expected to be on display for at least two years at the museum, located in South Williamsport, Pa.
Arriving via armored truck on Tuesday, June 4, and with a police escort into museum, the uniform was considered by some to be one of the most important and collectible sports memorabilia items in the world. It is on loan to Little League from a family that wishes to remain anonymous.
“There is perhaps no name connected to baseball that is more recognizable around the world than Babe Ruth,” said Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball. “Even after all these years, people know the name. We are thrilled to be able to exhibit such a unique and important artifact. We want people – particularly children – to see this wonderful piece of history.”
The gray uniform, trimmed in red, white and blue, was made by A.G. Spalding & Bros, currently a national sponsor of Little League® Baseball and Softball. It bears Babe Ruth’s No. 3 on the back, and has the insignia of the “All-Americans” on the chest. On the collar of the jersey and the waistband of the pants, “B. Ruth” is embroidered in red. The letters “U” and “S” are intertwined on the left sleeve and a U.S. Shield is on the right sleeve.
George Herman “Babe” Ruth wore the uniform when he played a series of exhibition games across Japan, teaming up with the likes of Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Connie Mack and Lefty Gomez. The tour was designed to further spread baseball in Japan, where it had been introduced many decades earlier.
More than a half-million Japanese citizens attended the 18 games that were played, and saw The Babe hit 13 home runs. Shortly thereafter, Japan formed its first professional baseball league and, in the 1950s, the first Little Leagues were chartered in Japan. Mr. Ruth passed away in 1948.
“The uniform will be in our Connections Gallery, one of six unique galleries in the museum,” said Lance Van Auken, Vice President and Executive Director of the Little League Museum. “It will help us tell the story of how baseball in general, and Little League in particular, expanded geographically.”
Photographs from the Japan barnstorming tour, on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., will be part of the exhibit as well.
Inside the case with the Ruth uniform will be a baseball that Babe Ruth hit in Williamsport during another barnstorming tour after the New York Yankees had just won the 1923 World Series. On Oct. 31, playing at Grays Park, the former Williamsport High School athletic field that is now part of the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Mr. Ruth hit the baseball 500 feet, and later autographed it. The West Branch Valley Sports Hall of Fame gifted the ball to Little League in 1984. A “Babe Ruth” Little League baseball bat from the 1940s, completes the display devoted to The Great Bambino.
Following the 2012 Little League World Series, Little League began a $4.3 million renovation to the Peter J. McGovern museum, which opened in 1982. The World of Little League: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store will have its grand opening on June 15, and will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., seven days a week.
About Little League®: Little League® Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with nearly 2.4 million players and one million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries. For more information, visit www.LittleLeague.org, or follow the Little League on Facebook (www.facebook.com/LittleLeagueBaseballAndSoftball) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/LittleLeague). The World of Little League: Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store will reopen to the public on June 15. It closed for a $4.3 million renovation project in September 2012. The new museum will contain nearly 300 artifacts, of which more than 200 have never been on display. More information about the World of Little League: Peter J. McGovern and Official Store is available at Little League’s® website: www.LittleLeagueMuseum.org.