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Johnny Sylvester
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    (April 5, 1915-January 8, 1990)
    Born in Caldwell, New Jersey
    Was hospitalized when the teams playing the 1926 World Series -- the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals -- sent him player-autographed baseballs
    On the Yankees' ball, Babe Ruth added the note, 'I'll knock a homer for you in Wednesday's game' (Game Four of the Series)
    Ruth hit three homers in the game, which was followed by Sylvester's 'miraculous' recovery
    As an adult became president of a packing machinery company
    The ball with Ruth's inscription sold at auction for $250,641 (2014)
    Versions of the story differ on whether he asked for a signed baseball or if his father (or his uncle) had come up with the idea to lift his spirits.
    He was variously reported as suffering from osteomyelitis, blood poisoning, a sinus infection, or spinal fusion.
    The confusion over his 'life-threatening condition' has fueled speculation that the incident was a hoax.
    Asked about him years later, Ruth reportedly blurted out, 'Who the hell is Johnny Sylvester?'
    He was nicknamed 'the Babe Ruth kid' in his grammar school for his baseball talent.
    He had reportedly been thrown from a horse then kicked in the head.
    He also received an autographed football from Red Grange and an autographed tennis racquet from Bill Tilden.
    The promise seems to have inspired Ruth: Game Four was the first time he hit three home runs in a game. (He also was the first player to hit three homers in a World Series game.)
    When Ruth visited him after the Series, he told Ruth, 'I'm sorry the Yankees lost.'
    He became a submarine commander in World War II.

Credit: C. Fishel

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