Ruth's uniform now at Little League museum

Museum features most complete Ruth uniform in world

Ruth's uniform now at Little League museum

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa -- Williamsport is the home of Little League, and for the last few years, it has also been home to the most complete Babe Ruth game-worn uniform on display in the entire world.

The Peter J. McGovern Museum and Official Store currently houses the uniform that the legend wore during a 1934 barnstorming tour in Japan to help popularize the sport overseas. One hundred years after Ruth's first home run, it's a display that seems quite timely this week, judging by the number of long homers being blasted out of Lamade Stadium. The museum is located just up the hill from the outfield fence of youth baseball's most famous ballpark.

"The uniform consists of a jersey, pants and a pair of socks," Lance Van Auken, executive director of The World of Little League said. "They are all in pristine condition."

This week, just before the 2015 Little League World Series got underway, the display differentiated itself from other exhibits even further, as the hat that matches the uniform was added to the display.

"The hat and the uniform have been separated from each other for more than a half a century, but it was coming up for auction," Van Auken said. "Now, there are no more existing pieces to that uniform."

The story of how the uniform came into the hands of the World of Little League Museum is one involving luck and a generous, anonymous donor.

"We were in the process of gutting the museum and trying to figure out what should go into it and a gentlemen who collects baseball memorabilia called us and said he was about to acquire the 1934 Babe Ruth Uniform that he wore on a tour of Japan," Van Auken said. "[He asked] if we would like to exhibit it in our museum."

Even though Ruth never played in Little League, the organization was established in 1939, Van Auken and other individuals at the museum felt that the uniform had enough of a connection to the organization to be put on display.

The display case also features a vintage wooden bat from the 1950s and a baseball from the 1920s that has a personal connection to the town of Williamsport. While the bat is one of the earliest models that bore the Little League name, the ball has Ruth's signature on it.

"When Babe Ruth came to our area on another barnstorming tour, he hit (that) ball well over 500 feet at a ballfield here at Williamsport that doesn't exist anymore," Van Auken said. "Somebody got the ball and got him to sign it. It made its way through different owners and was gifted to the Little League Museum. It was never on display until the museum reopened in June 2013."

Now, the Ruth display is one of the main attractions of the museum, and a must-see stop for fans in town that want to see a piece of history from the one of the game's most prolific home run hitters -- the perfect complement to watching Little Leaguers are blast homers in Williamsport.

"There are only five or six jerseys in the world that Babe Ruth wore while he played baseball, and we have one of them," Van Auken said. "We are really proud of that."

Jordan Randall is a reporter for Little League Baseball and Softball. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.