The Curse of the Bambino is Born.The Most Famous Transaction in Baseball History: Two Checks Related to the New York Yankees' Purchase of Babe Ruth from Boston Red Sox! Perhaps only Walter O'Malley, who wrenched the Brooklyn Dodgers from the loving arms of Flatbush at the close of the 1957 National League season, is more reviled in baseball history than former Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, the man who unleashed an eighty-six year curse on New England with the sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. And while it's unlikely that the further passing of decades will serve to erase either executive's villain status in the minds of those faithful to their respective ballclubs, the truth of these men's personal culpability in the heartbreak of their team's supporters has long been overstated. For O'Malley, the steady exodus of Brooklynites to the suburbs of Long Island heightened the need for a new ballpark easily accessible by rail and motorcar, a dream that would go unrealized despite a protracted campaign for funding. And for Frazee, it was the onset of a World War that slowed the spin of turnstiles at Fenway Park, leaving him awash in red ink as revenues dwindled. While history has attributed the sale of baseball's greatest human commodity to Frazee's theatrical ambitions--a play entitled "No, No, Nanette" specifically, this has always been an overly simplistic diagnosis.
But regardless of the cause, the effect remained the same. The Boston Red Sox, winners of one third of the first fifteen editions of the World Series, progressively bled talent to keep Frazee's head above water. And so began a procession of stars from Beantown to the Big Apple, Fenway favorites like Herb Pennock, Waite Hoyt, Carl Mays and Joe Dugan trading red socks for navy pinstripes. But no transaction in baseball history has ever been more significant than the sale of young George Herman Ruth to the New York Yankees, the prime factor in this tectonic shift in baseball's balance of power. Beginning in 1923, the Yankees would enjoy twenty-six World Championships over an eight decade span. The Boston Red Sox: zero.
Presented are two checks directly related to the sale of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, documents that rate as sacred or profane depending upon your position in relation to the dividing line between the sport's fiercest rivals. The final deal placed a $100,000 price tag upon the superstar southpaw, and added the guarantee of a $300,000 loan in the form of a second mortgage against the fledgling Fenway Park. No other transaction between the Yankees and Red Sox involved such large dollar amounts, assuring that these checks could only relate to the Ruth transfer.
The first check, dated "December 30, 1921," pays the "Boston American League Baseball Club" the sum of $100,000, a figure approved by Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert's signature at lower left, and the countersignature of co-owner Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston at left. The reverse bears the scrawl of the struggling Red Sox executive, reading "deposit to acct. of Boston American League Base Ball Club, By H.H. Frazee, Pres't."
The second check, dated "February 4th, 1922," adds $50,000 to the Boston coffers, signed by Jacob's brother George Ruppert at bottom left, and again countersigned by Huston. Frazee's endorsement likewise appears on reverse.
Each of the checks exhibits a vertical center storage fold and inconsequential handling wear. Light staining at the corners of the earlier check is likewise of little distraction. All ink rates 8/10 or better. Each check is slabbed in a PSA/DNA capsule under the header, "Sale of Babe Ruth to NYY, Ruppert/Frazee, Authentic."
The six-page contract spelling out the terms of the sale of Babe Ruth was the biggest hobby story of 2005 when it sold at auction for a million dollars. Most experts believe that result would be shattered were the piece to be offered again today, though there is little indication that collectors will ever get another shot at baseball's most important document. As such, this offering should be recognized for what it is-a potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring baseball's most consequential transaction into your personal collecting portfolio. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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