Babe Ruth Memorabilia Proves He’s Still the Sultan of Swat
Despite having retired from baseball more than 82 years ago, George Herman “Babe” Ruth is proving he is still the Sultan of Swat. Two of his items currently at auction could set new records in the world of sports memorabilia.
“Curse of the Bambino”
Despite having retired from baseball more than 82 years ago, George Herman “Babe” Ruth is proving he is still the Sultan of Swat. Aided by his larger than life persona, Ruth’s enduring legacy lives on as evidenced by the routine sale of his baseball memorabilia. However, two items currently at auction could set new records in the world of sports memorabilia.
Leland’s Auctions is currently hosting the sale of the legendary contract that sent the slugger from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees. That ill-fated decision would ultimately lead to the creation of one of baseball’s most notable phrases, “The Curse of the Bambino.”
The legendary contract that sent Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees. Only two copies of it are said to exist.
There are only two copies of the contract known to exist. Leland’s previously sold the Boston Red Sox copy of the deal, formerly owned by the family of former Boston Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee. The decision to sell Ruth’s services was allegedly made so that Frazee could finance his theatrical productions. That copy was later sold at auction through Sotheby’s in 2004 for $996,000.
This copy of the contract is from the late Jacob Ruppert, iconic New York Yankees owner. It was sold previously by Leland’s in a private sale approximately a week after the “Frazee Copy.” It has remained in that anonymous person’s collection ever since without having changed hands. The third and final “American League” copy has never surfaced.
Long-considered the most one-sided transaction in baseball history, the contract or “AGREEMENT” as the titled wording of the document reads, outlines the terms of the sale and transfer of the services of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for the sale price of $100,000.
As many know, it would be 86-years before the Boston Red Sox would ever again win a World Series Championship. During that time, their long-time division rival, the New York Yankees would win an unprecedented 26 championships.
This contract is one of the most historic documents in not only baseball history but American history as well. The fallout from the terms outlined in this contract helped to shape baseball and pop culture for decades. Ruth would go on to become a living legend. Adored by both casual and passionate fans, his popularity and persona took on the status of mythical proportions.
Pre-auction estimates vary. Many experts, including Lelend’s founder Josh Evans, believe $3M isn’t out of the realm of possibility. The auction runs through June 30th and current bidding, at the time of this writing, stands at $259K.
In addition to the famed ‘Curse of the Bambino” contract, Leland’s is also currently auctioning Babe Ruth’s personal 1927 World Series Championship ring.
Babe Ruth’s personal ring from the 1927 World Series Championship.
The New York Yankees team of 1927 is still considered to be one of the greatest of all-time. After losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1926 World Series, the Yankees went 110–44 the following year. They won the A.L. pennant by 19 games and swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1927 World Series. Only four teams in MLB history have won more regular season games. The moniker “Murder’s Row” was coined as a description of the team’s potent batting lineup that featured both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in their prime.
The ring was originally obtained directly from Babe Ruth’s widow, Claire Ruth, in the 1970s by the groundbreaking baseball memorabilia collector Barry Halper. The ring was then brokered by Leland’s in the mid-1990s to a private collector. It has never been auctioned nor publicly sold.
The ring itself is made of 14k gold, which is stamped on the inside of the band, and includes the original diamond. The name “G.H. Ruth” is engraved inside the ring and is still visible. Many are considering this item to be a true “holy grail” type of piece.
Babe Ruth holds the World Record for sports memorabilia sold at auction. His famed jersey, circa 1920’s, also sold by Leland’s, went for an astronomical $4.5M in 2012. Where the gavel will drop for this iconic piece of baseball history is anybody’s guess. Current bidding, at the time of this writing, stands at over $312K.
View both items at Lelands.com and watch this interview that Leland’s Josh Evans gave to CNBC.
Rob Bertrand has been an active collector of sports cards and memorabilia for more than 20 years. His involvement in the hobby community is well-documented, having been the content manager for the Card Corner Club website before the company’s merger with CardboardConnection in 2011, where he is now a staff writer and multimedia content producer. Rob is also the co-host of the sports collectibles hobby’s only live and nationally broadcast radio show, Cardboard Connection Radio. He is the author of the highly respected and trafficked blog, Voice of the Collector and you can follow him on Twitter @VOTC. A dealer himself, Rob runs an online business through eBay, and is frequently asked to consign collections.
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