LOS ANGELES – One of the world's rarest and most extraordinary pieces of baseball memorabilia has nothing to do with the national pastime, or even sports.
It is a standard saxophone, one that may have been played only a couple of times. But for Gary Cypres, owner of an incredible $32 million collection of treasures housed at the Sports Museum of Los Angeles, it comes with the seal of baseball royalty.
The saxophone, which Cypres bought at an auction several years ago, was presented to Babe Ruth by a fan in the 1920s. It is shown being played by the slugging icon while he sat alongside New York Yankees teammate Lou Gehrig in a famous photograph featured in Lawrence Ritter's 1988 book "The Babe: A Life in Pictures."
Remarkably, the instrument survived the test of time and is still in fine condition, while now occupying a place of pride in Cypres' extensive Ruth collection.
The saxophone is just one of thousands of pieces that will be on display when Cypres opens his private museum to the public Nov. 6 as part of "A Day of Champions." The event, held in conjunction with Yahoo! Sports, will raise funds for the Bogart Pediatric Cancer Research Program at the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.
For Cypres, a 68-year-old business tycoon who began collecting memorabilia 20 years ago, it sums up everything that made Ruth not just one of the greatest players of all time, but also a legendary and mystical figure within the game.
"So much of the excesses in [Ruth's] life were kept secret just because people loved him so much," Cypres told Yahoo! Sports. "He always had time for the fans and the media. He would do anything for the press guys, whether it was being photographed holding a chimpanzee, dressed up in football gear or playing a saxophone. So those guys protected him.
"He was such a fun guy, and this saxophone and the photo gives a wonderful insight into his life and his personality. That is why it is so special to me."
Also featured in the museum is Ruth's unique uniform from the 1934 All-American tour of Japan, which is valued at more than $2 million, as well as letters, hats, bats and even a shotgun that once belonged to him.
The Bambino died in 1948, his time cut short by his destructive lifestyle. In this collection, though, his legacy lives on and his personality is brought back to life in colorful, emotional, and even musical fashion.
To donate, volunteer or find out how to attend A Day of Champions, please visit the Bogart Pediatric Cancer Research Program home page.
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