One would think a ballplayer who hits 41 homers and adds one of the most famous post-season blasts ever would be in line for a pay increase but that wasn’t the case decades ago. With free agency still more than 40 years away, even Babe Ruth had to accept a pay cut in 1933. The pact he signed with the Yankees in the spring of that year is at auction with a current high bid of $190,000 heading into the final weekend of bidding.
Goldin Auctions is offering the contract in a sale of 78 Ruth items, set to conclude Saturday night at the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum in Baltimore. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Museum.
Ruth’s full name signature is joined by that of his owner/nemesis Jacob Ruppert and Yankees manager Joe McCarthy. Ruth also added his home address.
Ruppert proposed the aging Ruth take a pay cut from $75,000 to $50,000 so Ruth reported to Spring Training 1933 with the contract unsigned with every intention of hammering out a deal. Ruppert laid down an ultimatum: sign for $50,000 by March 29 or he would not be taken north with the team. Ruth gave in, signing for $52,000. Miffed, the always quotable Ruth told writers, “I expected a cut, but $25,000 is no cut, that’s an amputation.”
He would spend two more years with the Yankees before spending the final weeks of his baseball career with the National League’s Boston Braves.
The contract is protected inside a custom-made, embossed leather case.
Bidding for a Ruth model bat dating from 1925-26 has also reached six figures. The Hillerich & Bradsby R2 model bat measures 36″in length and weights a Ruthian 41 oz.
The C5-A center brand is of the type used on bats produced Records in Ruth’s Louisville Slugger archives describe this model as “His #1 Small”. “Small” refers to the smaller knob that was that was preferred by Ruth during the 1925-1926 seasons. The bat was obtained from Ruth by Ted Leaper, in whose family this bat remained until 2013. In the Roaring Twenties, Leaper was manager of the Paramount Theater, Paramount Pictures’ Manhattan flagship on Broadway.
Multiple Ruth autographed baseballs, ticket stubs to his World Series games, original baseball cards from his playing days and other items will close Saturday night. For more details or to register for the auction, visit www.GoldinAuctions.com.