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Babe Ruth's bat to be auctioned by family of hurling legend who met the American hero in 1926

A BASEBALL bat belonging to the iconic American player Babe Ruth is being sold by the family of a legendary hurler.

Frank McGrath, a famous Irish hurler and hurling manager was given the baseball bat when he met the American legend on a visit to the US in 1926.

The original Babe bat is already attracting huge interest at home and abroad, and it will be auctioned off on September 28.

Frank's grandson -- who has the same name -- told the Herald yesterday that the treasured bat has been looked after by his family for decades but they have decided to sell it to an American baseball fan.

"We're of the generation now where the significance of it is less than it would have been back then," he said.

"We used to have a pub in Nenagh where it was on display, and my uncle had a pub in Dungarvan where it went on display as well, but in latter years it's been lying on top of a press.

"It's a hidden treasure. But because we're from Tipperary, his medals and hurleys have a greater significance than a baseball bat.

"I would have a lot of other mementoes from him relating to his hurling but we've decided to hold on to those."

Frank McGrath brought the first ever inter-county team from Ireland to the US in 1926 under the banner of the GAA.

A reception was organised for the Tipperary Team at Yankee Stadium and Frank and the Irish party met Babe Ruth, and Frank presented Babe Ruth with a hurley, while Ruth presented the baseball bat to McGrath.

Grandson Frank told the Herald: "Babe Ruth was so famous that Americans would be interested. He is a legend and it was a ground-breaking event when he presented the baseball bat.

"It'd be like someone coming over from America to Ireland and meeting Brian O'Driscoll. Babe Ruth was huge and he still is in America. He is to baseball what Christy Ring is to hurling.

"The bat should be in the hands of someone that would appreciate it."

Auctioneer Fonsie Mealy is currently showing the bat and he will auction it off on September 28. He says the bat is attracting attention from the diaspora in America in particular.

"Everyone is anxious to see it. Several people have rung up to come and view it."