It wasn’t an easy time for a baseball player to ask for a salary increase. Not with the nation plowing through some of its most challenging economic times. Babe Ruth, though, was no ordinary player and not afraid to ask his boss to pay him like the extraordinary gate attraction he was. Now, the contract that inspired one of his most famous quips is on headed to the auction block where it is expected to sell for more than $400,000.
In its upcoming Summer Platinum Night sale, Heritage Auctions will offer the four-page Yankees pact Ruth signed in the spring of 1930, one that paid him an unprecedented $80,000 per year for two years. Yes, more than President Herbert Hoover earned for running the country.
“Eighty thousand dollars!” one reporter called out to Ruth during the signing ceremony. “That’s more than the President makes!”
The Babe’s famous reply? “Why not? I had a better year than he did.”
In black fountain pen, Ruth signed his full name on page two of the contract, which also contains the signatures of Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert and his attorney.
At age 34, Ruth had won his fourth consecutive American League home run title in 1929 with 46 and drove in 154 runs. His contract, the equivalent of about $1.15 million today, was a $10,000 increase over the year before, which at least temporarily soothed his disappointment at not being offered the Yankees managing job following the sudden passing of Miller Huggins. He signed it at the Yankees’ spring training camp in St. Petersburg, FL on March 10, 1930.
The contract is housed in a red leather slip case, embossed in gold. Also included in the lot is an original Type 1 news photograph (6×8″) of Ruth and Ruppert in the midst of the signing, complete with paper caption on verso and a stamped “March 13, 1930” date. Heritage sold the same contract for $384,000 in February 2017.
The signatures have been authenticated by PSA/DNA.
Bidding is expected to open July 27 and conclude as part of a two-night auction August 18-19.