It was the best of trades. It was the worst of trades. December 26, 1919. For the New York Yankees, it was the best thing that ever happened, the very first step in forging their brand name as the winningest team in professional sports. For the Red Sox? Not so much, making this a day of mourning in Boston,
NATIONAL RED SOX SELL BABE RUTH DAY!
In those days The Sox were owned by Manhattan swell and Broadway producer Harry Frazee, who needed money to stage his big new musical on Broadway, “No No, Nannette.”
Well, Harry had his priorities, so he sold the greatest baseball player who ever lived to the Yankees for $125,000 in cash and $300,000 in loans.
It wasn’t so much a trade as a fire sale. Ruth was still making the transition from being one of the great pitchers in the game to becoming the slugging outfielder who would define baseball for the next 15 years and change the game forever. So monumentally talented, larger than life and gleefully sinful, the only fair comparison you can make to Ruth is to call him “the Babe Ruth of Babe Ruths.”
There’s never been another like him, a great pitcher becoming the greatest slugger ever, with personality to spare. The Babe became the first mass media athlete superstar, a household name and face bigger than his sport, one of the voices that made the Roaring Twenties roar. They didn’t call Yankee Stadium “The House That Ruth Built” for nothing.
Boston fans, however, may take solace in the fact that “No No, Nannette” was a smash hit on Broadway that kept Harry Frazee in champagne and showgirls for years. That ought to take the sting out of the 86 year-long championship drought following this trade called the “Curse of The Bambino.”
•Suggested activities: Calling your shot.