The Shirt Off His Back

Babe Ruth jersey from 1920 debuts on exhibit at Museum thanks to anonymous supporter

June 29, 2012
Babe Ruth's circa-1920 New York Yankees road jersey is the earliest-known worn uniform top (Milo Stewart, Jr./NBHOF Library)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – More than 90 years after he pulled on his first New York Yankees jersey, Babe Ruth still has the power to captivate baseball fans.

Today, fans are lining up in Cooperstown to see the oldest known Yankees jersey worn by Ruth at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

The jersey, loaned by an anonymous, passionate baseball fan who purchased the jersey and wishes to share this important piece of baseball history with fans who visit Cooperstown, debuted on Friday in Ruth’s locker in the Museum’s Babe Ruth Exhibit.

“We are thrilled to have this valuable piece of baseball history on display in Cooperstown, so fans everywhere can enjoy another relic from The Bambino’s career,” said Jeff Idelson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “The jersey’s new owner wants to share this piece of history with baseball fans and historians alike, and we’re equally excited to provide a home to display this vintage item for fans around the globe.”

The jersey is expected to remain on display through Hall of Fame Weekend 2013, but will be off display from July 24-Aug. 9, 2012. The Babe Ruth Exhibit, located on the second floor of the Museum, remains one of the Hall of Fame’s most popular stops for visitors. One of only two exhibits in the Museum dedicated to a single player (Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream being the other), theBabe Ruth Exhibit captures the enormity of Ruth’s skill and persona through on-field artifacts and breathtaking photography.

Ruth was sold by the Boston Red Sox to the Yankees during the offseason before the 1920 season. In his first year with New York, he hit 54 home runs – more than every team in the major leagues except the Philadelphia Phillies. Ruth was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 1936.

“The Hall of Fame has hundreds of pieces related to Babe Ruth in our various archives, all of which help to document the career of Babe Ruth and his important place as an icon of American culture,” said Erik Strohl, Senior Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Hall. “We are pleased to exhibit this new loan, a wonderful gem representing Ruth’s early career with the Yankees. There was not a better place in the museum than Ruth’s actual locker from Yankee Stadium, the ideal location to share this piece with our passionate visitors.”

A "Bustin' Babes" jersey that the Bambino wore in 1927 and 1928 when barnstorming against the “Larrupin’ Lous" is the earliest Ruth jersey in the Hall of Fame's collection. Additionally, the Cooperstown shrine has numerous artifacts on exhibit related to Ruth's storied career, including a silver crown presented to Ruth after his 59-home run season of 1921, the bat from his record-setting 60th home run in 1927, and the ball from his final career home run (May 25, 1935).

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum