Babe Ruth’s 1919 New York Yankees Contract
Babe Ruth’s 1919 New York Yankees Contract is a highly valuable item of sports memorabilia. It was sold in June 2005 for $996,000. Babe Ruth
George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr. (1895-1948) was an American baseball player, active 1914 to 1935.
He is “often referred to as the greatest baseball player who ever lived” and widely considered to be “one of the greatest sports heroes in American culture.”
Starting at the Boston Red Sox as a pitcher, Ruth was famously sold to the New York Yankees in 1919 for $25,000.
His prolific form (in 22 seasons, he hit a record 714 home runs) made him an “extremely popular baseball player”.
Many of Ruth’s numerous records for both pitching and hitting lasted for decades.
The contract has been described as “the most important document in the history of sports”. Executed on 26th December 1919, the contract consists of 5 pages, yellowed through age. The agreement “sets forth the terms by which Harry Frazee, owner of the five-time World Champion Boston Red Sox, agreed to sell the services of player George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth to owner Jacob Ruppert and the New York Yankees”.
The final page of the contract is signed by both Frazee and Ruppert in bold black fountain pen.
The contract has been credited with “not only chang[ing] the course of baseball history, it prompted a sea of change in both sports and popular culture that still resounds today.”
The New York Times reported that “it remains a mystery how the contract … ever left the hands of the two baseball clubs or Major League Baseball.” It was purchased in 1993 by Alan Feinstein for $99,000.
On 10th June 2005, the contract was sold for $996,000, by Sotheby’s, New York. At the time, it was the top price ever paid at an auction for a sports document.
It was purchased by Peter Siegel, the owner of a collectibles and memorabilia store in New York called Gotta Have It! He outbid six people for the six-page document and described it as “an historical jewel, a diamond”.
The net proceeds of the sale will benefit “Second Harvest”, America’s largest hunger-relief organization.