Saturday, August 10, 2013

The most-storied trade of all times

I sometimes amuse myself (as many do, I’m sure) just cruising around the Internet. Often, it’s baseball related. You know the sort of thing: looking up interesting players’ histories, fact-checking something, reading coverage of classic games, etc.).

Well, this past week I hit the motherlode in a sense. It is the legal document trading Babe Ruth, hero and ace pitcher for the Red Sox, to their hated rivals, the Yankees. The rest, as they say, is history as the Bambino went from being one of the best pitchers in the game into the most feared hitter (arguably of all times).

What really makes the document interesting is the amounts of money involved. It was a lot in those days, but still not what you would have expected for such a game-changing player. No other player changed hands. Yes, you did read that correctly. The Yankees just paid cash for Ruth.

Now why would Boston trade away one of their most valuable players for just a bag of cash? There are two reasons (but I imagine one weighed much more heavily than the other). First, Ruth was a pain in the ass for Red Sox management. He had a bad temper. He smoked, drank and overate. Basically, they viewed him as an accident waiting to happen. When the team tanked in 1919 and ownership began getting rid of star players, it was the perfect excuse to jettison Ruth, too.

But why just cash? Well, that’s the other reason. Sox owner Harry Frasee needed money to finance a Broadway-bound show he was producing. The money he got for Ruth (and others, I’m sure) financed his show.

Obviously, Frasee wasn’t a baseball guy...


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