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Lot # 997 (of 1594)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1919 Promissory Note From the Yankees to the Red Sox In Payment For the Sale of Babe Ruth

Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $44,062.50

Barry Halper kept this promissory note due to its extraordinary historical significance to the sale of Babe Ruth. This note was an integral document to the transaction, the most famous in the history of baseball, in which the game's greatest star was sold from the Red Sox to the Yankees. The promissory note, made by the New York Yankees to the Boston Red Sox in the amount of $25,000, records one of the four payments made by the Yankees to the Red Sox for the sale of Babe Ruth's contract in 1919. On December 26, 1919 Harry Frazee, owner of the Red Sox, came to an agreement with Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghas L'Hommedieu Huston, co-owners of the Yankees, over the sale of Babe Ruth, a transaction that would forever be hailed as the "Deal of the Century." In return for Ruth's contract, the Yankees agreed to pay Frazee the unheard of sum of $100,000 (more than twice the sum ever paid for a player) and to provide him with another $300,000 in the form of a loan. The $100,000 payment was to be made in the following manner: $25,000 in cash at the signing, plus three promissory notes each for $25,000, payable over the next several years. Offered here is one of the original three promissory notes given to Frazee on that day in payment for Ruth. The note is dated December 30, 1919, and reads in part: "Note of $25,000, due November 1st, 1921, made by the American League Base Ball Club of New York in favor of the Boston American League Base Ball Club." The due date of the note originally read "1920;" however, Frazee, in green fountain pen, changed the "0" in "1920" to "1" and initialed the change along the right border. Frazee has signed the note in green fountain pen along the base, "H. H. Frazee - Pres't." On the back of the note, Frazee (once again in green fountain pen) has written "Boston American League Baseball Club," below which he has signed his name twice. The black fountain pen signatures of both Jacob Ruppert and Tillinghas Huston, appear below Frazee's. All of the signatures grade "10," with the exception of Huston ("8," slight smudging to his last name).

This note was one of the highlights of the significant Ruth documents in the Barry Halper Collection and was originally obtained by him directly from the estate of Ed Barrow. Barrow was manager of the Boston Red Sox in 1919, but in 1921 he joined the Yankees as General Manager, a position he held for more than twenty years. Years after Barrow's death, Barry purchased his entire business archive (comprised of thousands of documents), as well as many personal letters and photos, directly from his estate. It is from that archive that all of the other various papers and documents that exist relating to the sale of Ruth originate. Barry parted with nearly all of the Barrow material during the initial offering of his collection in 1999 (including one of the other promissory notes), but he held on to this one piece because of its profound historical significance.

Much has been written over the years regarding the sale of Ruth, and rightly so, for it forever changed the fortunes of the two respective franchises. At the time of the sale the Red Sox had won four World Championships in the past eight years. The Yankees, on the other hand, were a perennial second division club and had yet to even win a pennant. Following the sale the roles became reversed and the "Curse of the Bambino" was officially born. Until 2004, Red Sox fans had to endure watching the Yankees win twenty-six World Championships, which was exactly twenty-six more than the Red Sox. No baseball transaction before or since has led to such a dramatic reversal of fortune for the respective clubs. Steeped both in history and American lore, this piece is one of the most important baseball documents in existence relating to the sale of Babe Ruth, and one that most would normally expect to encounter only at a venue such as the Baseball Hall of Fame. The note (9.5 x 7.5 inches) is bright and clean, displaying a horizontal and two vertical fold lines, as well as a few staple holes and light surface wrinkles. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. From the Barry Halper Collection. LOA from James Spence/JSA.
Reserve $2,000. Estimate $5,000+. SOLD FOR $44,062.50

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