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Ruth-autographed ball fetches $250,642 in auction

Babe came through on promise to hit World Series home run for injured boy

Ruth-autographed ball fetches $250,642 in auction

A famous Babe Ruth-autographed baseball, upon which he promised a young fan he'd hit a home run for the child, was sold at auction on Thursday for $250,642.

According to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, the buyer of the "I'll knock a homer for you" baseball wishes to remain anonymous. It was sold through Grey Flannel Auctions.

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As the story goes, 11-year-old Johnny Sylvester was injured in a horse-riding accident in 1926 and his story reached the Yankees. Ruth and the team sent a signed baseball to Sylvester in Essex Falls, N.J., where the child was hospitalized, while the ballclub was in St. Louis to play the Cardinals in the World Series.

Ruth signed the sweet spot of the baseball -- with his nickname Babe in quotation marks -- and also wrote "I'll knock a homer for Wednesday's game." Ruth went on to hit three home runs in Game 4 of the Series -- the first time he hit three long balls in a game, and the first time any player did so in the World Series.

Sylvester grew in fame as newspapers reported his improving health after that ballgame, and Ruth would soon write the child a letter saying he'd try to hit another home run for the young fan. Ruth did, in Game 7 of the Series. The letter, one of two Ruth sent the boy, was also sold at auction.

The baseball's auction lot included photocopies of newspaper articles from the time of the story, as well as photos from 20-plus years later when Ruth and Sylvester finally met. According to Rovell, the ball -- which was owned by Sylvester's son, John Jr. -- had been in the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore for 25 years. It was sold on the 119th anniversary of Ruth's birthday.

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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