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Rare photo of a young Babe Ruth and his dad is up for auction

Babe Ruth and his dad, photographed in 1915 at the elder Ruth's Baltimore tavern.
Babe Ruth and his dad, photographed in 1915 at the elder Ruth's Baltimore tavern. (Robert Edward Auctions)

A rare original print of a 1915 photograph of Babe Ruth standing with his lookalike father behind the bar of the elder Ruth's tavern is up for auction, and is expected to fetch upwards of $50,000.

The two George Herman Ruths, Sr. and Jr., are dressed in matching striped shirts, vests, ties and bar aprons. They most likely were photographed on Dec. 27, 1915, according to a news release from New Jersey-based Robert Edward Auctions, which is holding the online auction. The tavern, which was located at 38 S. Eutaw St., is decorated for the holidays. A large bowl of egg nog sits on the bar; hanging on the back wall is a sign proclaiming, "Oyster Style Raw Bar Now Open." An advertising calendar, on the wall to the right of the elder Ruth, reads "Babe Ruth's Cafe."

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The Babe, who was born in Baltimore in 1895, had bought the tavern for his father using the $3,780.25 bonus he'd received as part of the Boston Red Sox team that won the 1915 World Series. He worked full-time at the tavern during the 1915 off-season, according to the news release, before moving to Boston the following year.

George Herman Ruth Sr. died in August 1918 after falling and hitting his head while breaking up a quarrel involving members of his second wife's family outside the tavern. He is buried in Loudon Park Cemetery.

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It is believed fewer than five original prints of the often-reproduced picture survive. The 9.5 x 7.75-inch photograph is mounted on a roughly 14 x 11-inch paper frame that reads, "V. Velzis Studios/749 W. Baltimore."

As of Tuesday afternoon, bidding on the photograph had reached $18,000. The auction is scheduled to end May 6.

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