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On October 20, 1931, Mickey Charles Mantle entered the world in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, and was named after the greatest catcher in the game, Mickey Cochrane. Meanwhile, farther out west that very same day, Cochrane's former teammate George Burns—a.k.a., Tioga George—dated this Pacific Coast League ball featuring the sweet-spot signature of none other than the mighty Sultan of Swat himself. Thus, as decades passed and Mantle carried the torch of Yankee greatness, this special sphere took on increasing historical significance as a link between the Mick and the Babe. Not to be overlooked, Burns led a distinguished career of his own, amassing over 2,000 hits and a .307 lifetime average while winning two world championships ('20 Indians, '29 A's). He also recorded one of the finest statistical seasons of the 1920s with an extraordinary 64 doubles (setting a then Major League record) plus 216 hits, 115 RBIs and a .358 average—which earned 1926 A.L. MVP honors for the Indians' slick-fielding first baseman. In 1931, Burns played for the Mission Reds and Los Angeles Angels of the PCL, but his reputation remained such that he also headlined the "George Burns All-Stars" in a 3-game series of charity barnstorming game against the "Babe Ruth All-Stars"! Held at the Angels' home park, Wrigley Field, to benefit the Marion Davies' Clinic for Children of Disabled War Veterans, the series began on October 18th with a 9-4 Burns victory. This red-and-blue-seamed PCL ball, then, can be pinpointed to the third and final contest of the series, because by the following day, October 21st (while Baby Mickey dozed in his nursery crib), Ruth is documented as having traveled northeast to Fresno for what was then only his third-ever night game. The heavily toned orb exhibits tiny surface chips throughout, only minimally affecting Ruth's black fountain-pen "8-9" signature. Burns' north-panel script, "Geo. H. Burns / 10-20, 31," remains partially intact due to surface abrasions, and there is also a south-panel penning of an unidentifiable figure by the name of "Williams." Full LOA from JSA.
The adjacent reference photo (not included) was issued by International News on October 18, 1931, with its caption describing, "One home run and one single out of five times at bat was Babe Ruth's record at Wrigley Field here, as the Ruth All-Stars lost to George Burns All-Stars, 9 to 4. The Babe's appearance here was the first of three games for charity."
Babe Ruth Signed Ball From Barnstorming Game Against George H. Burns - Dated 10-20-31 The Day Mickey Mantle Was Born!
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