Expert says rare Babe Ruth card California man bought for $2 is real, but skeptics remain

Credit: Professional Sports Authenticator

Credit: Professional Sports Authenticator

A California man is feeling like a million bucks -- or more -- after a 1921 Babe Ruth baseball card he bought for $2 has been authenticated, KFSN reported. But while Dale Ball is ecstatic over the news, some baseball card collectors are skeptical.

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Ball, of Visalia, bought the card at a shop in Sparks, Nevada, last month, KSEE reported. The shop owner thought the card of the New York Yankees Hall of Fame slugger was a fake or reprint when he sold it to Ball, the television station reported.

After analyzing lab results, which included a fiber ID process that compared the card to another from that era, Fresno State anthropology professor John Pryor pronounced the card genuine.

"They were able to suggest that it was within the time frame that the date for this card would be," Pryor told KFSN. "So, between the inks and the fiber analysis, both are at least consistent with that time period."

That was great news for Ball, who had been on edge since submitting the card for analysis.

"You don't know how much it took my heart, three weeks ago when we got that report -- to know that I had the real thing," Ball told KFSN. "To watch my mom look at me and say, I finally believe you and for my dad to know that I had something that was going to fix us all and take care of us."

The card was produced by the Shotwell Manufacturing Co., a Chicago-based confectionary company that competed with Cracker Jack for consumers during the post-World War I era, according to the “Standard Catalog of Baseball Cards.”

According to Professional Sports Authenticator, a New Jersey-based sports authentication business, only three cards are part of the Shotwell set -- Ruth, William "Baby Doll" Jacobson and George "Hooks" Dauss. The cards are similar to the E121 set put out by the American Caramel Co. the same year, but carry an advertisement for Shotwell on the reverse.

Interestingly, Ball has not submitted the card to any of the three major sports authentication services -- PSA, Dallas-based Beckett, and Florida-based Sportscard Guaranty LLC.

That is a red flag on sports collectibles forums like, where posters are making comparisons with a graded PSA version of the Shotwell card and Ball's card, noting the imperfections on the PSA card match the one Ball owns.

Regardless, Ball said he has already heard from collectors offering him upward of $1 million, KFNS reported.

"I was told by an auction place back east that the beginning bid would start at $1.5 (million) through them and that it would probably go for $4.5 (million) and up," Ball told the television station. "It deserves to be on the wall of Yankee Stadium, right next to Babe Ruth's statue. It deserves to go home."

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