There's just something so unique, so special and so ironic about this treasure—the only known Ruth-signed, full-sized "Bounder." Back in the Deadball Era, when Wee Willie Keeler was hitting it where they ain't, and Ty Cobb was choking up on his bat to lace singles, ground balls were highly prized. Think of Ned Hanlon's "Baltimore chop" strategy in the 1890s, which Cobb lamented the loss of in his 1961 autobiography: "You chopped the ball into the ground deliberately—infielders were forced to charge the lazy bounders and throw on the run, or lose their man. That’s another form of baseball offense which is all but extinct."
And why did it fall out of favor? In large part because of Babe Ruth. The Bambino ushered in the live-ball era, and soon enough the hottest baseballs on the market were no longer called Bounders, they were Home Run Specials! Indeed, this sphere dates to 1914, when Ruth was just breaking into the majors as a promising young Red Sox hurler, and when the league-leading slugger was Gavvy Cravath with a mere 19 round-trippers. According to JSA, Ruth's "5"-strength signature actually hails from the 1930s, yet we still can't help but marvel at the wonderful juxtaposition of a Deadball Era Reach "Bounder" and the man who essentially put it out of business—while forever changing baseball history—with his home-run revolution. This is by far one of the most fascinating and desirable Ruth singles to enter the hobby in quite some time. Bright seams, bold stampings and medium usage/wear. Full LOA from JSA.