MANHATTAN (CN) – A 50-year-old Californian faces up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to trying to sell an old baseball glove for $200,000, falsely claiming it belonged to Babe Ruth, who loved the glove so much he “slept with it under his pillow at the orphanage.”
Irving Scheib, of rural Bonsall, in North San Diego County, pleaded guilty to wire fraud Thursday in New York City, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
An FBI official said in the statement: “That the glove ever belonged to Babe Ruth was a complete and elaborately constructed fiction.”
Citing the federal information and statements made at the Thursday court hearing, prosecutors said that Scheib bought the “1890’s Full Web Workman Baseball Mitt” for $750 on eBay in January. He knew that it had no connection to Babe Ruth.
According to the U.S. attorney’s statement: “Shortly after purchasing the glove on eBay, Scheib set out to resell the glove by fraudulently claiming that it was used by baseball legend Babe Ruth. Among other things, Scheib fraudulently told a sports memorabilia broker in Nevada that the glove was a family heirloom that was obtained directly from Babe Ruth. Specifically, he claimed that deceased Hollywood actor Robert Young, to whom Scheib is related by marriage, obtained the glove from Ruth. Scheib also sent fake documents to the memorabilia dealer corroborating this
fabricated provenance, and falsely claimed in a letter that the glove ‘was gifted to Babe Ruth’s personal friend and Golden Era Star Robert Young in 1944 … [and that Ruth] he was so affectionate towards this glove that he slept with it under his pillow at the orphanage.’ These fake documents, in turn, were sent to an individual interested in purchasing the glove (the ‘Buyer’). After paying for the glove, the Buyer asked Scheib to notarize one of the letters attesting to the provenance that was signed by Scheib and purportedly signed by Scheib’s wife, who is Young’s granddaughter. Scheib refused to do so and the Buyer accordingly returned the glove.
“Subsequently, Scheib repeated the same fabricated provenance for the alleged Babe
Ruth glove over the telephone to someone he believed was another potential buyer in New York. That potential buyer was in actuality an undercover investigator for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.”
Scheib will be sentenced on Oct. 30.
Babe Ruth actually was raised in an orphanage. “I was a bad kid,” he wrote in his autobiography. Many colorful stories, many of them true, are told about Ruth, perhaps the most popular baseball player of all time and the first one to be paid $100,000 a year.
After a round of golf he allegedly would order a pitcher of martinis and then down it at one go, ice cubes and all.
And when he was criticized for being paid more than the president of the United States, Ruth allegedly responded, “Why not? I had a better year than he did.”