Description1922 Babe Ruth Signed Contract Addendum Limiting His Drinking, Late Nights.
"I'll promise to go easier on drinking and to get to bed earlier, but not for you, fifty thousand dollars, or two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars will I give up women. They're too much fun."
--Babe Ruth to Col. Jacob Ruppert, 1922
New York Yankees owner Colonel Jake Ruppert was concerned. The year 1922 had been a tumultuous one for his superstar slugger, whose poor behavior had kept the Babe in the scandal rags, and out of the line-up, far more than a man earning over three times as much as his next biggest player's salary should be. After missing six weeks at the beginning of the season due to Judge Landis' suspension for barnstorming infractions, Ruth went just five days before being stripped of his captain's stripes for throwing dirt on an umpire and then directing a vulgar gesture at a heckler in the stands. In mid-June, he was tossed twice on consecutive days. By August, Ruth had been suspended by the League five times.
And while receiving just 110 games of service for his $52,000 annual commitment to the Babe, Ruppert received almost daily briefings of the Babe's off-field behavior, the drinking, the carousing, the many late nights. He was convinced that all of these factors were connected, and that the time had come to rein in the Bacchanalian Babe. After all, the club was moving to an palatial new baseball grounds in the Bronx the next season. This sort of behavior just wouldn't do. If Babe Ruth was really worth one thousand dollars a week, he had better start acting like an adult.
It was this revelation on the part of the frustrated Yankee patriarch that spawned the incredible document we present here, almost certainly the first "substance abuse" agreement ever conceived in the course of American athletics. Six typed legal-size pages spell out the terms that would hopefully curb Ruth's self-destructive tendencies, and help earn the New York Yankees their first World Championship. In essence, it is an opportunity for Ruth to reclaim the sum of $9,017.10 he had been fined "for infraction of the regulations" as stipulated in his historic thousand dollar per week contract. The terms of this November 11, 1922 contract addendum are stated as follows:
"It is understood and agreed by and between the parties hereto that the regulation above set forth, numbered '2' shall be construed to mean among other things, that the player shall at all times during the term of this contract and throughout the years 1922, 1923 and 1924, and the years 1925 and 1926 if this contract is renewed for such years, refrain and abstain entirely from the use of intoxicating liquors and that he shall not during the training and playing season in each year stay up later than 1 o'clock A.M. on any day without the permission and consent of the Club's manager, and it is understood and agreed that if at any time during the period of this contract, whether in the playing season or not, the player shall indulge in intoxicating liquors or be guilty of any action or misbehavior which may render him unfit to perform the services to be performed by him hereunder, the Club may cancel and terminate this contract and retain as the property of the Club, any sums of money withheld from the player's salary as above provided."
Though the Colonel, a good family man, was none too happy about the Babe's womanizing, he understood that any regulations levied in that regard would be a lost cause. With Ruth's wife, a demure woman uncomfortable with the New York City spotlight, maintaining the family residence in Boston, the Babe was free to operate as a swinging bachelor. And while every story we hear about Ruth would lead us to believe he signed the terms as listed with fingers crossed, a gentleman's agreement to exclude marital fidelity from the terms was made as well. The sixth and final page bears the consenting signatures of the two parties in unique and desirable variations: "Jac. H. Ruppert, Prst." and "Geo. H. Ruth." The notary's signature is here as well, with all three presenting at 9+/10 strength. Furthermore, where handwritten changes have been made on the second, third and fifth pages, both Ruppert and Ruth have initialed their consent, also in the boldest of black fountain pen ink. Some minor separation at a few of the original storage folds causes no concern, and all pages remain solid and complete. The original file envelope, entitled "American League Baseball Club of New York with George Herman Ruth Agreement," is here as well.
The exploits of George Herman Ruth, both on and off the playing field, have become a treasured chapter in American folklore. His rags to riches rise from the orphanage to the height of international fame, his tremendous appetites for wine, women and song, his dominance of our National Pastime, all of it makes him the most beloved and recognized sports figure of the twentieth century. Perhaps no other piece on earth so succinctly captures "the essence of the Babe," and Heritage is immensely pleased to offer this historic document to the collecting community. LOA from PSA/DNA. LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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