Ruth's '23 Series watch being auctioned

1923 title was first for Yankees

By The Sports Xchange
POSTED: 4:13 PM Jan 24 2014   UPDATED: 8:02 PM Jan 24 2014
Babe Ruth, 1921 New York Yankees

Babe Ruth's 1923 World Series championship pocket watch is expected to sell for at least $750,000 at a New York auction, according to The Associated Press.

For decades, it was thought that the watch was lost.

Ruth batted .368 with three home runs for the New York Yankees in the 1923 World Series, which they won over the New York Giants in six games. It was the Yankees' first World Series title.

The pentagonal gold timepiece is being sold at Heritage Auction on Feb. 22.

"It was the beginning of what's become the most dominant dynasty in American sports," said Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at the Dallas-based auction house. "It changed the culture and Babe Ruth's the ultimate leader of that team."

Instead of championship rings that players currently receive, players then got watches.

"No one knew where the piece had been," Ivy said. "No one has ever seen it for public sale or public auction. The fact that there was no news about it for so many decades, it was just thought that at some point it had been lost to time."

The watch, made of 14-karat gold, was with Ruth until shortly before his 1948 death from cancer.

Ruth gave the watch to friend Charles Schwefel, who kept it for two years before his wife gave it to Lewis Fern, her nephew and Ruth's frequent golf caddy. Fern sold it in 1988 for about $200,000 to its current owner, a major East Coast sports collector who kept it in a safe deposit box.

"A lot of items from that era were lost or discarded, so the fact that the watch reappeared ... obviously is of historical significance," said Steve Costello, executive vice president of Steiner Sports collectibles in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Engraved on the watch is an inscription, "To My Pal Charles Schwefel."

The engravings "really add to the provenance," Costello said. "There aren't that many things of that nature being done any more. ... How many people in today's society have a pocket watch?"

Also engraved on the Gruen Verithin watch is a pitcher, hitter, catcher, a ball in flight and the words "Yankees" and "World Champions 1923."

"Whenever you get something that's one-of-a-kind item from Babe Ruth, the sky's the limit," Costello said.