Babe Ruth and Eugene Kramer’s 5 to 10 minutes of fame.

Babe Ruth and Eugene Kramer’s 5 to 10 minutes of fame.

Eugene Kramer with a copy of the Babe Ruth autograph

Library Document Station_2

We recently re-discovered an almost-forgotten document telling the story of Eugene Kramer’s fifteen minutes of fame.

As seen in the document, in the summer of 1945, Eugene, then 15 and living on Riverside Drive in Manhattan, was attending summer school. Though perhaps he should have been paying more attention to the class, as he gazed out the window, he spotted Babe Ruth, then 50 and retired for 10 years.

Within bothering to explain to the class or the teacher, Eugene bounded out of his seat and rushed outside the school in hopes of getting the Babe’s autograph. He reached the Babe in time and got the autograph, returning to the class with trophy in hand.  After his explanation, the teacher said leaving the class without permission was justified. Andy Warhol claimed everyone gets 15 minutes of fame.  From start to finish, Eugene’s brush with the Bambino lasted maybe 10 minutes. But that’s close enough.

Notarized account of the encounter, 1991

Notarized account of the encounter, 1991

Dr. Bob Bryant with a copy of the autograph

Dr. Bob Bryant with a copy of the autograph

Years later, in 1991, Eugene mentioned the autograph to our friend Dr. Bob Bryant, Brighton dentist, sports memorabilia collector and at that time a top flight badminton player. Bob offered Eugene 500 dollars for the autograph, a very fair price that Eugene accepted.  To authenticate the signature, Eugene notarized his account of the encounter. There is no reason to doubt its veracity. I recall Bob also bought some of my 1970’s baseball cards that he gave to children patients to sooth their anxiety.

Wondering what became of the autograph, I recently contacted Bob who said the autograph was one of the most cherished in his collection. About six months ago, Bob sold the autograph for $3500.  He anticipated that his kids would fight over who would get it. To avoid controversy, he decided to sell the signature. Bob used the money to travel recently to Russia and Finland where he ate reindeer but did not splurge on bear meat.

Bob also recalled that Eugene had used the money to purchase rare chess books. Bob also recalled that Eugene said I didn’t want the autograph. This surprised me but then I realized it wasn’t until maybe ten years later that I became interested in autographs. The collection includes Cal Ripken Jr, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg, Bryce Harper from his final minor game when he played for Syracuse and a Gale Sayers autograph that Eugene got when Sayers spoke at a health expo in Rochester.

The autograph collection

The autograph collection

Babe Ruth signing autographs in 1944. From His Life and Legacy" Babe Ruth *CENTENNIAL SPORTS* 2018 [David Kramer's collection]

Babe Ruth signing autographs in 1944. From His Life and Legacy” Babe Ruth *CENTENNIAL SPORTS* 2018 [David Kramer’s collection]

The summer of 1945 had more drama for Eugene. On August 14th he turned 16, the same day as the great VJ celebrations in New York. The joke is that when Eugene heard the din, he thought New York was celebrating his birthday.

(left) Ted Williams (right) Babe Ruth. Caption: "THE ONLY PICTURE EVER TAKEN IN UNIFORM FIRST MEETING OF TWO CHAMPIONS July 13, 1943 BOSTON, MASS. FENWAY PARK" [From David Kramer's collection]

(left) Ted Williams (right) Babe Ruth. Caption; “THE ONLY PICTURE EVER TAKEN IN UNIFORM: FIRST MEETING OF TWO CHAMPIONS, JULY 13, 1943 BOSTON, MASS. FENWAY PARK” [From David Kramer’s collection]

SEE ALSO 

The six games Babe Ruth played in Rochester

NY Times asks for help with “A Jackie Robinson Mystery.” Well, Eugene Kramer was there. (Almost)

Frank Robinson and a glove signed at the 1988 Orioles-Red Wings exhibition game

About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, and the CITY.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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