Dear Babe: I have a canceled New York Yankee check made out to William Essick dated Dec. 9, 1925. It is signed by Jacob Ruppert.
-- Roland Hughey, Rougemont, N.C.
Babe: While the players came and went, Jacob Ruppert was signing checks as owner of the New York Yankees for more than two decades. That's a lot of checks with his signature.
He bought the team in 1915 along with Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston. Ruppert bought out Huston's 50 percent share in 1922. The team was the Highlanders when he bought it. He changed the name to Yankees, signed Babe Ruth in 1920 and built the old Yankee Stadium in 1923. He died in 1939.
"These are quite common as Ruppert signed a ton of documents during his lifetime," said Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com. "He is a prominent figure in Yankee history, but is not in the Hall of Fame. It's worth no more than $200."
For the record, Essick is best known for what he did as a scout for the Yankees. As a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds in 1906 and '07, he had a 2-4 record. However he spent more than a quarter-century as the West Coast baseball scout for the Yanks. He's credited with discovering Joe DiMaggio, according to a 2007 story by Jesse Temple at www.register-mail.com.
The articles says: "As a scout, Essick looked for a good throwing arm, baseball savvy, and most importantly, speed. 'A kid who isn't fast is a dead loss because you can't teach speed to a guy,' Essick told Collier's Weekly."
Marty Appel, in his new book, "Pinstripe Empire: The New York Yankees From Before the Babe to After the Boss," says that in addition to DiMaggio, Essick was involved in the signings of Frank Crosetti, Left Gomez, Tony Lazzeri, Joe Gordon and Johnny Lindell.
Dear Babe: I have a print of Secretariat -- "The Crown Prince," by James S. Wright. It is signed by Wright. The inscription is: "Good luck, Rufus, Best Wishes, James S. Wright." Rufus was my dad.
-- Frank Crowe, Redding, Calif.
Babe: "This profile image of Secretariat that you sent is very nice and it does help being signed," said Leila Dunbar, an expert on sports memorabilia (leiladunbar(at)aol.com). "I would put an auction estimate of $300 to $500 on it."
Mike Heffner, president of www.Lelands.com, seems to agree with Dunbar "I am not familiar with this, but would guess that it sells for around $300."
Dear Babe: I have an official NBA basketball signed by the entire 1996 Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. Some of the signatures include Shaq O'Neal, Byron Scott, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Kobe Bryant!
-- Marco Gama, Riverside, Calif.
Babe: "This basketball is worth $500 to $750 depending on how dark the autographs are on the leather," said David Kohler, president of www.scpauctions.com. "This is a desirable basketball as it is Kobe Bryant's rookie year and Shaq's first year with the Los Angeles Lakers."
The Lakers under Del Harris finished second in the NBA's Pacific Division and then made a quick exit from the playoffs, losing the first-round best-of-five series to the Houston Rockets, 3-1.
It was a few years before Shaq and Kobe teamed up with Phil Jackson to three-peat, winning three NBA titles.
(Babe Waxpak is written by Bill Wagner. If you have a question for Babe Waxpak, include your full name and hometown, the card number, year and manufacturer or send a photocopy. Please do not send cards. The address is: Babe Waxpak, Box 492397, Redding, CA 96049-2397 or email email@example.com.)