The Babe's Monster Deal; Ruth's Contract Set the Standard

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 8, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Babe's Monster Deal; Ruth's Contract Set the Standard


Byline: Dick Heller, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The game's greatest slugger reached for the sheaf of papers and scribbled his name on the bottom line - George Herman Ruth. The date was March 8, 1930, and the Babe had just signed the biggest contract in baseball history: $80,000 for each of two seasons. Said his immediate boss, general manager Ed Barrow of the New York Yankees: No one will ever be paid more.

It was a terrible guess, but Barrow had no way of knowing that 79 years later the Yankees would be giving Alex Rodriguez about $25 million a season - or more for about three days than Ruth earned for a season.

This was early in what came to be known as the Great Depression, and bread lines were forming across the country.

You know what, Babe, a man is supposed to have told Ruth. You're making more than the president of the United States [Republican Herbert Hoover, who earned $75,000 a year].

The Babe, an ardent Democrat, scowled. So what? he is supposed to have replied. I had a better year than Hoover did.

No argument there. In 1929, Ruth batted .345 with 46 home runs and 154 RBI, though the Yankees failed to win the American League pennant for the first time in four years. The luckless Hoover had been president for only seven months when Wall Street collapsed that October, sending the nation reeling toward financial ruin.

Ruth was 35 then and still in his prime despite years of indulging in wine, women and song. He rewarded the Yankees with two more epic seasons (.359, 49, 153 in 1930; .373, 46, 163 in 1931) before approaching an inevitable decline that led to his retirement in 1935.

Yet the Yankees did not dominate baseball in those years as they had in the 1920s. Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics beat them out of pennants both seasons despite the Babe's heavy hitting. Meanwhile, Ruth became a bitter, sulking man after the Yankees snubbed him in 1931 to pick career minor leaguer Joe McCarthy as manager.

In the spring of 1930, though, all was just dandy with the Babe's world although there was a comic opera touch to his signing. Back then, there were no player agents or free agency. Yet the largely uneducated Ruth proved effective in negotiating with Barrow and Col. Jacob Ruppert, the Yankees' millionaire owner.

If you're scoring at home, give an assist on the play to the Babe's second wife, Claire, a no-nonsense former showgirl who probably prodded him into his unprecedented salary demands.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Babe's Monster Deal; Ruth's Contract Set the Standard
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?