Babe Ruth-signed ball sold at auction

Updated: February 7, 2014, 5:31 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

One of the most famous autographed baseballs in history -- the one signed by Babe Ruth with a promise to hit a home run for an ailing 11-year-old boy -- was sold for $250,641 by Grey Flannel Auctions on Thursday night.

[+] EnlargeBabe Ruth autographed baseball
Grey Flannel AuctionsBabe Ruth signed this ball in 1926 for Johnny Sylvester with the message: "I'll knock a homer for Wednesday's game." He wound up hitting three home runs in Game 4 of the 1926 World Series.

An official with the auction house said the buyer wishes to remain anonymous.

Johnny Sylvester, who was injured when he fell off a horse in the summer of 1926, received the autographed ball that had the message "I'll knock a homer for Wednesday's game" written on it.

Ruth then famously hit three home runs for the New York Yankees that Wednesday, which happened to be Game 4 of the 1926 World Series. Newspaper accounts at the time soon proclaimed that Sylvester's condition suddenly improved thanks in part to the moment.

The ball, which was owned by Sylvester's son John Jr., was on loan to the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore for 25 years.

The price paid for the ball falls short of the record for a Ruth signed ball. In 2012, a ball with a pristine Ruth signature sold for $388,375.

Two letters written by Ruth to Sylvester sold for $76,747 and $71,553 in the auction.

The sale of the ball was timed to the 119th anniversary of Ruth's birthday. Ruth, who died in 1948, stayed in touch with Sylvester until his death.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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