Going, going, gone! Babe Ruth's 1918 contract sells for $1.02 million at auction

Yahoo News

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Babe Ruth contract (Goldin Auctions)

Babe Ruth contract (Goldin Auctions)

He passed away more than 65 years ago, but Babe Ruth remains one of the most popular baseball players to ever swing a bat.

Need proof of his continued fame? A 1918 contract, when he played for the Boston Red Sox, recently sold for a whopping $1.02 million at auction this past weekend. This contract is the earliest known player's contract for Ruth, according to Goldin Auctions.

Yahoo News spoke with Doug Drotman, a public relations spokesperson working with Goldin Auctions, which handled the sale. "We were very pleased with the sale price," he said. "When you're in the auction business you try and not be surprised. All it takes is two guys wanting something and prices can go anywhere."

The sale of Ruth's 1918 contract marks the highest price ever paid for a sports contract. The record was previously held by another Ruth contract, which sold for $997,000 in 2005.

Casual baseball fans might be surprised to see that the 1918 contract guaranteed Ruth a relatively modest salary of $5,000. Nothing to sneeze at in 1918 but still a very small fraction compared with what big-league baseball players earn today.

With inflation, $5,000 in 1918 translates into $78,774.83 in 2014. The average Major League Baseball salary these days: $3.39 million.

The Red Sox famously traded Ruth in 1920 to the New York Yankees, where he became one of the most famous people in sports history and set many records, including walloping 60 home runs in 1927. That record stood until Roger Maris, also a Yankee, hit 61 homers in 1961.

Ruth's career batting average was an impressive .342, especially considering his tendency to swing for the fences. He was quoted as saying, "If I'd tried for them dinky singles I could've batted around six hundred."

Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).
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