In perhaps the most notorious transaction in baseball history, the Boston Red Sox sold the rights to Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for $100,000 in 1919. Ruth went on to become one of the greatest players of all time (his Wins Above Replacement is the highest ever, just ahead of Barry Bonds) and the Red Sox were haunted by the "Curse of the Bambino" until 2004.
A promissory note from Ruth's sale was recently placed on auction at Goldin Auctions, and it sold for $151,250.
From Goldin Auctions' description of the item:
The $100,000 sale of Ruth was double what any other ballplayer had previously been sold. Offered here is one of the original three promissory notes given to Frazee on that day in payment for Babe Ruth’s contract, and was originally owned by famed baseball collector Barry Halper. The 7.5” x 9.5” note is dated “December 30, 1919”, and the type reads "Note of $25,000, due November 1st, 1921, made by the American League Base Ball Club of New York in favor of the Boston American League Base Ball Club." The due date of the note originally read "1920." However, Frazee changed the "0" in "1920" to "1" and initialed the change along the right border.
Ruth played for the Yankees for 15 seasons, finishing his career with 714 home runs.
- Alex Hampl