Saturday, December 26, 2015

December 26, 1919—A Day That Will Live In Infamy

Babe In Red Stockings (Library Of Congress)
Ninety-six years years ago today, the owner of the Boston Red Sox made what is arguably the worst transaction in baseball history. On December 26, 1919, Harry Frazee sold the contract of one George Herman Ruth to the New York Yankees for $125,000 (and a $300,000 loan). Frazee's eerie 'Godfather'-like comment was, "This was an amount the club could not afford to refuse." Yikes! 'The Babe' had asked Boston for a raise, and stated, "When I made my demand on the Red Sox for $20,000 a year I had an idea they would choose to sell me rather than pay the increase, and I knew the Yankees were the most probable purchasers." Ruth was a great starting pitcher for Boston, having helped them win three World Championships in his six seasons with the club. And, in 1919—playing as a left fielder—he had just broken the MLB home run record by clouting 29. Oh, did we mention that he also went 9-5 that year as a starter? Clearly, this Ruth kid was a two-threat, multi-tool athlete. So, get rid of him, right? Well, he hit 54 home runs for The Evil Ones in 1920, and 59 more the next year. Pretty quickly, it became apparent that Harry screwed up. Oh, what could have been!