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Babe Ruth’s 1918 Red Sox Contract Sells for Record $1.02 Million

Babe Ruth stands in his Red Sox uniform, 1919. Ruth, who made his Major League Baseball debut with the Red Sox 100 years ago, signed a contract for $5,000 during the 1918 season -- a raise from his $3,500 salary in 1917. Source: Buyenlarge via Getty Images
Babe Ruth stands in his Red Sox uniform, 1919. Ruth, who made his Major League Baseball debut with the Red Sox 100 years ago, signed a contract for $5,000 during the 1918 season -- a raise from his $3,500 salary in 1917. Source: Buyenlarge via Getty Images

July 15 (Bloomberg) -- Babe Ruth’s 1918 contract with the Boston Red Sox sold at auction for $1.02 million, more than 200 times his salary for that season, when he won a World Series title and began to make the transition from pitcher to slugger.

Ruth, who made his Major League Baseball debut with the Red Sox 100 years ago, signed a contract for $5,000 during the 1918 season -- a raise from his $3,500 salary in 1917. The contract, signed by Ruth, Red Sox owner H.H. Frazee and American League president Ban Johnson, was sold July 12 in Baltimore by Goldin Auctions and the Babe Ruth Birthplace & Sports Museum to an undisclosed buyer.

Goldin Auctions said it was a record sale price for a baseball contract and also surpassed the $996,000 price of the document for Ruth’s sale to the New York Yankees from Boston in 1920. That piece of memorabilia was sold in 2005.

Ruth pitched in 117 games for Boston over his first three full seasons in the majors, compiling a 65-33 record with a 2.02 earned run average. He also totaled 351 at-bats from 1915 through 1917, with nine home runs.

In 1918, Ruth went 13-7 in 20 games, including 19 starts, as a pitcher, and batted .300 with a league-leading 11 home runs in 317 at-bats. No other player on Boston’s championship team had more than one homer that year.

Ruth hit 714 career homers -- third in major league history behind Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron -- and was a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s first class in 1936.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net Rob Gloster, Jay Beberman

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