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Douglas Capraro Douglas Capraro

A Look at Babe Ruth’s First Yankees Contract: “No Booze, and Be in Bed By 1AM”


A curfew and an alcohol ban are among the eye-catching stipulations in this 92-year-old document.

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Page 1 of the Big Bambino’s first contract for the Yankees. Photo via Moments In Time

The very first contract that Babe Ruth negotiated with the New York Yankees is about to go up for auction. A look at the 92-year-old document reveals a salary of $52,000—the highest in the league—and several unorthodox conditions. Most notably, page 2 states: “…the player shall during the term of this contract … refrain entirely from the use of intoxicating liquors and that he shall not during the training or playing season … stay up later than 1 o’clock A.M. …without the permission and consent of the Club’s manager.”

These may seem like odd instructions to impose on a grown man, especially one of the greatest athletes in sports history. But the Big Bambino’s alcoholism is well documented. According to Complex, he is even considered the greatest hard-drinking athlete of all time. HBO’s recent documentary, Babe Ruth, also sheds light on his habits, which included drinking before games and playing while hungover on no sleep. Besides further accounts of womanizing and gluttony, he was also known to wander the dockyards and taunt police officers.

This contract was hand-signed by George Herman Ruth on March 10, 1922, after he had already played for the Yankees for three years under his Boston Red Sox contract. It also requires Ruth to pay a $30 deposit for his own uniform.

The contract, which is being sold by Goldin Auctions, is expected to fetch over $1 million. A full pdf of the document can be seen here.