Video footage of Babe Ruth is extremely rare, so much so that MLB's archives are believed to have less than one hour of film of the Sultan of Swat.
According to Phil Reisman of the Journal News, a clip of Ruth hitting a game-winning home run against the Washington Senators has surfaced. "This is the Holy Grail," said Mike Augustyni, who bought the footage sight unseen during an eBay auction last fall.
The clip is in black and white and is approximately 30 seconds long. There is no sound. Here is a short piece of the clip showing Ruth taking what can best be described as a Ruthian swing and fouling a pitch off:
Again, that is a foul ball as part of the at-bat, not the home run itself. Here is Reisman's description of the full video clip:
Taken from a ground-level seat at Yankee Stadium with a heavy 16-millimeter Kodak camera, the movie shows the Sultan of Swat standing in the batter's box against Firpo Marberry, a tough right-hander known for his menacing scowl. It's the bottom of the eighth and the Yanks are down 4-2. Two men are on base.
Ruth, who at this point in his storied career supposedly had downsized to a lighter 39-ounce bat, takes a mighty swing (weren't they all?) and smacks a high, arcing fly toward right field. Two fans in the foreground, a man in a stylish straw boater and a woman in a cloche hat, rise to their feet in excitement.
Marberry winds up again, and this time chucks one under the Bambino's chin. Ruth stumbles and nearly falls down. The next pitch is a little outside but Ruth, no doubt angered by the previous dusting, extends his arms and pulverizes the ball. The ball instantly disappears against the gray wash of sky.
Augustyni digitized the footage but will not yet release the full clip for "proprietary reasons." After some detective work using player numbers, the buildings located outside Yankee Stadium, and a shot of the Graf zeppelin flying over Manhattan, it was determined the game in the film was played on Aug. 29, 1929. Ruth hit the homer in the first game of a doubleheader. Here's the box score.
Ruth was 34 years old in 1929 and the homer in the video was the 507th of his career. He led the league with 46 home runs that year.
Needless to say, this is really, really cool. I hope to see the full video one day.
(h/t LoHud Yankees Blog)