The Bambino Hits Yet Another Homerun
~ Amy Lignor
Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson are two stars who have probably made more money ‘in death’ than they actually made while breathing. Their star power and, let’s not forget massive talent, did not fade away when they left this earth, it just got better and better as new generations continue to jump aboard their trains, buying albums and even visiting Graceland every single year.
When it comes to sports, it may be the LeBron James ridiculously large 42.1 million contract signed with his once archenemy, for just 2-years, that is the talk of the NBA world. However, it is an old guy – a real star – that was honored once again this weekend.
It is unknown in 2014 if LeBron James will stay in the peoples’ consciousness 100 years from now, but it is a definite given that certain stars before him have done just that. Recently, it was a man by the name of George Herman Ruth, Jr. (AKA: everyone’s ‘Babe’), whose name was brought to the forefront even though he passed away in 1948.
People remember (even children because this information was passed down through generations of sports fans per family) – not to mention, the beauty of YouTube that keeps history intact forever – the American baseball outfielder and pitcher who stood in the spotlight (sometimes good, sometimes bad), and produced thrills and chills for twenty-two years in MLB. Even the nicknames are no longer ‘cool’ in the sports arena. I mean, A-Rod? Come on! We are talking about ‘the Bambino’, ‘Babe’, ‘the Sultan of Swat’ – the man with the cool nicknames who achieved ultimate fame with the Yankees and set records left and right, becoming one of the first five to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
When you look at other sports contracts – the NFL, for instance – Colin ‘Kap’ Kaepernick’s recently signed contract with the 49ers (6-yr/$126 million), is unbelievable. This guy is still barely out of diapers even though he has already brought the 49ers to the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game the very next season (losing both, by the way). You want to know what the ultimate sports’ stars contract was? In 1918, when he signed with the Boston Red Sox, it was worth $5,000 to Babe which back then made his coffers explode. But on Saturday night Babe would be thrilled to know that this same $5,000 contract was worth $1.02 million dollars. (Still not ‘Kap’s’ money, but let’s face it, next to Kap and LeBron, Babe is still King no matter what amount they’re bringing home).
The auction was amazing. Up for sale was the signed contract by Babe, as well as Ban Johnson (American League president) and Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee – who will go down in history as making the worst mistake in sports when he agreed to sell Babe in 1919 to the New York Yankees, a move that allowed the Yankees to become the dominant force in baseball.
The sale broke a record as being the highest amount ever paid for a sports contract; the $1.02 million tromped the previous record held by – you guessed it – Babe Ruth. A document that actually sent Babe to the Yankees sold in 2005 for $996,000. The buyer from Saturday night wanted to remain anonymous, but I bet he or she is laughing up a storm right now, holding on to a document that will – most likely – be worth more than Kap and LeBron together when her or his grandchildren wish to auction it off down the road.
This was also the 100th anniversary of Babe’s major league debut, and he was certainly honored by auction bidders. One of Babe’s bats brought in $215,000, while a signed ball brought in another $96,000. The biggest shock was that the very first home run ball Babe Ruth hit at Yankee Stadium did not sell. But as everyone knows…it will eventually.
Many Yankees’ items went on Saturday night, from a glove ‘believed’ to have been worn by Mickey Mantle to ticket stubs from the 1927 Yankees championship games. One of the lowest sellers came not from MLB but the NFL, when a Ravens’ Super Bowl ring from XXXV went for $36,000. You can’t blame back-up QB Tony Banks for wanting the money instead of the ring. Especially seeing as that the Ravens Super Bowl win was followed up by some of the worst play ever seen.
In the end, a lesson was taught: There are stars who will burn out – even though they will burn out in style because they have a whole lot of money to live on. But there are other stars – true greats like Babe Ruth – who will keep their fame and beloved fans no matter how many decades pass by. A ‘real’ player in any sport should vie for that love and respect far more than the millions given which is not actually earned.