Johnstown collector scores Babe Ruth ball blasted out of the Point

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Callie Burgan, Editor-in-Chief

Avid sports memorabilia collector Tim Burns recently acquired a special piece of Johnstown history — a baseball signed by Babe Ruth after he hit it out of the Point Stadium.

According to Burns, Ruth hit the ball out of the Point Stadium during a practice session in 1927.

“Somehow, a man from the Somerset area, who would have been a child at the time, found the ball and got the Yankees and the Johnnies teams to sign it,” Burns said.

“I’m still in awe (that) I have it. It was signed by Ruth, Lou Gehring and the rest of the Yankees, and Johnnies. The signatures have been authenticated as legit.”

Burns — a Johnstown resident who has a law firm in Ebensburg — said he would not disclose the name of the Somerset family out of respect for their privacy.

But he noted that they had been in possession of the ball for nearly 100 years. In addition to Ruth and Gehrig, the other Yankee Hall of Famers to sign the ball were Earle Combs, Tony Lazzeri and Manager Miller Huggins.The authentication of the signatures was done by JSA Authentication, a nationally recognized sports authentication service.

Tony Penna Jr., owner of Main Street Hobby in downtown Johnstown, brokered the deal by connecting Burns with the family.

“A friend of mine, Walt Clawson, had reached out to me over a year ago and we had spoken about the baseball,” Penna said. “We were going to go through the process of getting it to an auction house.

“Then, of course, COVID hit. Tim is a very good customer of ours, and I know he has such a passion for things in Johnstown. The ball was not Walt’s, but it was a close family friend of his. Walt and I brokered the meeting, and they were able to sit down and come to an agreement between each other for the price . . . There was no financial interest on our part. We were just really proud to be part of something so historic about Johnstown. We brokered the deal to do something really cool for Johnstown.”

Clawson agreed with Penna, saying that he was glad to see someone in Johnstown buy the ball and be willing to share its history.

According to newspaper archives, Ruth would go on to hit 60 home runs in 1927, which is a record that would stand for 34 years. Gehrig would finish the season with 175 runs batted in.