Babe Ruth's final contract brings $278,500 to Goldin Auctions

The final contract Babe Ruth signed during his tenure with the New York Yankees has sold with impressive bids at Goldin Auctions' October Legends auction.

While Ruth's straight salary declined, he found a crafty way to circumvent any loss of earnings

The contract sold for $278,300 at the November 1-ending auction.

Regarded as one of the most important Babe Ruth contracts, the 1934 document shows Ruth's declining salary as he moved one year further toward retirement (he would complete his career the following season with the Boston Braves).

At this point, Ruth had long been the highest earning player in the league by a large margin (earning up to $75,000 a year), but his salary was reduced from $52,000 to $35,000 (still the highest sum received by any player) following an offer of $25,000 from Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert.

"I expected a cut, but $25,000 is no cut, that's an amputation!" commented Ruth at the time.

The contract features the autographs of some of baseball's most important figures

However, the contract also displays Ruth's obvious prowess as a businessman, with a special covenant added to provide Ruth with "25% of actual net receipts from exhibition games played during regular championship season."

Ruth was well aware of his ability to draw crowds to the Yankee Stadium - known as the "House that Ruth Built" - and it was estimated that this added clause would bring him more money than his original $52,000 salary.

In addition to its importance to Ruth's career, the contract bears superb autographs from Ruth, Jacob Ruppert, Ed Barrow, the Yankees' general manager, and William Harridge, the American League president.  

The 1918 contract Ruth signed with the Boston Red Sox set a record for a Ruth contract earlier this year, when Goldin Auctions sold it for $1m. His first with the Yankees also featured in the present sale, but failed to reach its reserve.

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