DEAL MADE THE BAMBINO THE HIGHEST-PAID PLAYER IN SPORTS – AND LAUNCHED ERA OF THE SPORTS SUPERSTAR
In the seasons before 1930, Babe Ruth had established himself as baseball’s best player and most popular personality. He hit a record-setting 60 home runs in 1927. That same year, he took time off to star in the movie Babe Comes Home. And in 1928, his New York Yankees repeated as World Series champs.
It was perhaps not so surprising then that in March 1930, Ruth began renegotiating his contract with the Yankees, eventually walking away with a deal that guaranteed him $160,000 over two years. Someone told Ruth he had a higher annual salary than the president of the United States, Herbert Hoover, to which Ruth responded: “Why not? I had a better year than he did.”
“This deal validated Ruth’s status as the sport’s greatest attraction,” says Chris Ivy, director of sports auctions at Heritage. “The record-setting contract is all the more remarkable for its execution in the earliest days of the Great Depression.”
Ruth’s 1930-31 New York Yankees player’s contract is being offered in Heritage’s Platinum Night Sports Catalog Auction scheduled for Feb. 25-26, 2017. It’s expected to realize at least $500,000.
“The only Ruth document more significant than this one to surface in the last 20 years is the paperwork that transferred ownership from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees,” Ivy says. “That covenant commanded a million dollars over a decade ago, and would sell for two or three times that figure today.”
The auction also features Ty Cobb’s 1909-11 T206 red background portrait tobacco card with the coveted Ty Cobb back, issued in the same series as the legendary 1909-11 T206 Honus Wagner Sweet Caporal card but even more scarce. “These are two of the most famous baseball cards in the collecting hobby,” Ivy says. “The fabled T206 set has fascinated hobbyists for a century and beyond.”
The Cobb card is part of the “Lucky 7 Find,” a small but important archive of early cardboard unearthed in a rural southern home in early 2016. It’s expected to sell for at least $300,000.