Official Asahi League baseball signed in fountain pen on the sweet spot, "Babe Ruth," and on a side panel, "Lou Gehrig." Ball is also signed on another side panel, "E. Whitehall," Nationals pitcher Earl Whitehill. Signatures were most likely acquired during the 1934 barnstorming tour of Japan by players from the Major Leagues. By 1934 the game of baseball had spread to the far East and a baseball tour was arranged by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis and Benjamin Shibe to demonstrate the game in Japan and the Philippines. Although reluctant at first, Ruth was convinced to join the Major League Winter Tour of Japan in 1934 by a Japanese newspaper man who showed Ruth a Japanese sign that read, "Ruth Coming!" The team consisted of 14 American Leaguers with Connie Mack as manager. The highly successful 17 game tour was highlighted by Ruth's 14 home runs, but he was struck out three times in one game by 17-year old pitcher Eiji Sawamura, who quickly became a national hero. Further, catcher Moe Berg, who was fluent in Japanese, was actually undercover as a photographer for the U.S. Government in addition to his baseball duties. Over 200,000 fans turned out to witness the four games played in Japan. Most of Gehrig's last name faded and light, but legible, overall toning to ball, some scattered light soiling, and a few surface marks, otherwise very good condition.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.