Fresh on the heels of selling Babe Ruth’s 1918 Red Sox player contract for a record $1.02 million, Goldin Auctions will now offer both the first and last player contracts The Babe signed as a member of the Yankees in its October Legends Auctions, to be held from Oct. 6 through Nov. 1.
“Our record-breaking Babe Ruth 100th Anniversary Auction this summer proved there is still an insatiable appetite for historic Ruth memorabilia,” says Ken Goldin, founder of Goldin Auctions. “We are thrilled to offer these two museum-quality artifacts, along with the more than 1,500 other great collectibles in our October Legends Auction.”
Ruth’s historic 1922 contract was the first he signed with the Yankees after playing his first three seasons in pinstripes under the terms of his 1918 Red Sox contract. The 1922 contract – which covered the 1922 season with the Yankees and a team option to renew for two additional seasons, including 1923, his first Yankees championship – was for an unprecedented $52,000 per season. The record contract was a 520 percent increase from his previous contract and more than three times the salary of any other player. This was not undeserved after Ruth slugged 54 and 59 homers in his first two seasons with the Bronx Bombers.
In addition to spelling out payment terms, the contract also required Ruth to “refrain entirely from the use of intoxicating liquors and that he shall not during the training and playing season in each year stay up later than 1 o’clock A.M. on any day with the permission and consent of the club’s manager.” The date of “March 10, 1922” and bold, black fountain pen signatures of “Jacob Ruppert” and “George Herman Ruth” are on their respective lines, grading solid (“9/10”) in strength. Ruppert’s signature also appears on the “Regulations” page, while “Form 1922” has the signature of A.L. President “Ban Johnson” (“8/10”), with the date stamp of “APR 4 -1922.”
The second contract represents his final Yankees contract for the 1934 season. It exemplifies how the Yankees tried to disrespect Ruth at the end of his career. The slugger, who had made $52,000 the previous season, was forced to take a dramatic pay cut to $35,000 for his final season. But in true “Ruthian” fashion, he made out in the end by building into the contract a clause providing Ruth “25 percent of the actual net receipts from exhibition games played during the regular championship season.” It is estimated Ruth ended up with more money in his pocket at the end of this contract than he would have had with a much higher straight salary.
This standard “Uniform Player’s Contract” is dated “Jan 15, 1934” and signed by “George H. Ruth” and “Jacob Ruppert,” as well as “Ed Barrow” as Yankee General Manager, and “William Harridge” as American League President. All of the black ink signatures are extremely dark, grading “10/10” in strength and higher in eye appeal, except for Harridge’s, which comes in at (“8/10”). This is a rare player document signed by four members of baseball’s Hall of Fame.
For more information and to view and bid on the hundreds of collectibles in the October Legends Auction, visit www.GoldinAuctions.com.