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by Rosemary McKittrick

Something about the year and the season demands to be immortalized. The victories, the close calls, the heroes, the home runs, it's all part of the magic of the 1927 New York Yankees.

In the late innings when other players were easing up, the Yankees were heating up. Powered by red meat, whiskey and cigarettes, they won 110 games and swept the World Series from The Pittsburgh Pirates.

It was an American league record that stood for 27 seasons. Murderers' Row is what they were nicknamed with a team batting average of .307.

Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. Lou Gehrig hit 47.

If confidence and steadiness were hallmarks of great players, Ruth and Gehrig had both with a fury unlike anything baseball had ever seen. When they played, there was a sense that history was being made on the grassy fields.

The one-two punches of Ruth and Gehrig in the batting line up demoralized even the best rivals. "Pitchers began pitching to me because if they passed me they still had Lou to contend with," Ruth said. Behind Ruth and Gehrig were two more sluggers, Bob Meusel with 103 runs and Tony Lazzeri with 18 homers. Add to that a clean up crew of Earle Combs and Mark Koenig and you had a baseball team beyond all teams.

"Those fellows not only beat you, but they tear your hearts out," said Washington First Baseman Joe Judge after the Yankees swept a double-header on July 4, 1927.

When professional baseball celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1969, the 1927 New York Yankees was the team they picked as the all-time best. No team has ever been better, baseball historians said. If one player stood out in this team, it had to be Babe Ruth.

"Some 20 years ago, I stopped talking about the Babe for the simple reason that I realized that those who had never seen him didn't believe me," said sportswriter Tommy Holmes.

The Babe was bigger than outfield fences, batting averages and ballparks. This was a man who had an insatiable appetite not only for baseball, but for life. This was the energy he brought to the 1927 New York Yankee. This was the energy he inspired in fans.

"I swing big. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can," Ruth said.

Ruth played in Yankee Stadium but it really could have been called "The House that Ruth Built."

"Those Yankees were the best team," Ruth said. "Figure it out. After we got going we won 12 straight World Series games. It was murder.

The Yankees had the greatest punch baseball ever knew. We never even worried five or six runs behind. Wham! Wham! Wham! and Wham! Not matter who was pitching."

It's no surprise then when an autographed baseball signed by 21 members of the 1927 New York Yankee team goes on the block and commands $66,000. It sold on Feb. 24 in the Important Sports memorabilia and Cards sale at Hunt Auctions in Exton, Pa.

The baseball included signatures of Ruth, Gehrig, Combs, Lazzeri, Koenig and Meusel. Ruth occupies the sweet spot and remains the boldest signature.

Here are some current values for other baseball memorabilia offered in the sale:

Baseball Memorabilia
»Studio Portrait; Ty Cobb; posed in a business suit; crisp sepia tone; circa 1910-1915; 7 1/2 inches by 9 1/2 inches; $1,760.
»Advertising sign; rare Stall & Dean baseball equipment tin lithograph display sign; circa 1900; $6,325.
»Payroll check; Babe Ruth; endorsed; New York Yankees; for the amount of $6,190.76; 1927; $21,450.
»Bat; rare "Shoeless" Joe Jackson professional model; Louisville Slugger 125 model; circa 1921-1924; $22,000.

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