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Director of Operations @ Grey Flannel Auctions

The “Little” Johnny Sylvester Collection

Grey Flannel announces February auction of historical ‘Little’ Johnny Sylvester collection, including most talked-about Babe Ruth-signed baseball of all time.

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Family–held 1926 archive documents fabled event in which Babe Ruth promised gravely ill child ‘I’ll Knock A Homer For You’

Grey Flannel Auctions is proud to announce that we have been commissioned to sell the “Little” Johnny Sylvester collection, a unique family-owned archive related to one of the most famous stories in baseball history. Sylvester was a gravely ill 11-year-old boy who rallied after receiving a baseball signed by Babe Ruth together with a promise from the Yankee slugger to “knock a homer” for him.

The Internet, phone and absentee auction featuring the Sylvester collection will open for online bidding at www.greyflannelauctions.com on January 20 and conclude on February 6, 2014, the day that would have been Babe Ruth’s 119th birthday.

The collection’s centerpiece is the most talked-about baseball of all time, the “I’ll Knock A Homer For You” baseball that Ruth and the Yankees sent to Sylvester. Ruth and five other Yankees autographed the baseball. Ruth’s immortal promise – “I’ll Knock A Homer For You” – appears on one panel, and an inscription from the Yankees appears on another.

Shortly before October 6, 1926, Babe Ruth and the Yankees sent the signed and inscribed baseball to Little Johnny, who was hospitalized near his home in Essex Falls, New Jersey. The youngster had been seriously injured in the summer of 1926 after falling off a horse and being accidentally kicked in the head by his mount. Learning of the incident and Sylvester’s devotion to the Yankees, the team sent Sylvester the ball from St. Louis, where they were playing the Cardinals in the 1926 World Series.

Ruth promised to hit a home run for Little Johnny and, amazingly enough, he hit not one, but three homers in Game 4 of the Series. It was the first time Ruth had ever belted three in a game, and in so doing, he became first player to do so in a World Series.

The young patient’s spirits were lifted, and three days later (Game 6) Ruth sent a hand-written letter stating that he would try to hit another homer for little Johnny, “maybe two.” Ruth hit his fourth home run of the series in Game 7. The day after Game 7, October 11, 1926, Ruth personally visited Sylvester in Essex Falls. On December 16, 1926, Ruth penned another letter to the boy, inquiring about his recovery and inviting him to Yankee Stadium in 1927 “to help win another pennant.”

A public display of this famous collection of American history will be held 12 noon to 5 p.m. from Jan. 22-26 and Jan. 29-Feb. 2 (closed on public holidays) at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center, 8 Quarry Rd., Little Falls, New Jersey (20 miles from New York City via I-80). Details will be announced soon regarding a press conference at the museum with John Sylvester Jr.

The February 6 auction will include many other rare and important New York Yankees items. Grey Flannel is seeking additional Yankees-related consignments of exceptional quality for the sale. For additional information on consigning to, or bidding in the auction, contact Grey Flannel by calling 631-288-7800 or emailing info@greyflannelauctions.com. View detailed images online of the Babe Ruth ball and all other Sylvester archive items at www.greyflannelauctions.com, starting Wednesday, Dec. 18.

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