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A Bid of $996,000 Buys Ruth's 1919 Contract

June 11, 2005|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Curse? What curse?

The 1919 contract that sent Babe Ruth from Boston to the Bronx sold at auction Friday for $996,000, delighting its new owner -- a die-hard Yankee fan -- and a hunger-relief group designated to receive a financial windfall from the sale.

"I was prepared to pay almost whatever it took," said Pete Siegel, head of Gotta Have It Collectibles, after his winning offer. "I'm not saying a billion dollars, but whatever price I needed to secure it."

The crowd at the Sotheby's/SportsCards Plus auction burst into cheers when the hammer came down after 15 minutes of intense bidding. The five-page typed contract recorded the deal blamed for dooming generations of Red Sox fans to heartbreak as victims of "the curse of the Bambino." The price was nearly double the presale estimate for the Dec. 26, 1919, contract and nearly 10 times the $100,000 cost of purchasing Ruth.

It was a deal that had lasting repercussions in both cities. The Red Sox, with Ruth, had won the World Series one year earlier. They wouldn't win a title again until last year, when "the curse" was finally broken with their World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

"This, to me, is the most important sports document," said Siegel, who had no immediate plans for the contract other than to keep it in a safe place. The contract was previously owned by Rhode Island philanthropist Alan Shawn Feinstein.

Proceeds from the sale were donated to America's Second Harvest, which provides food for 23 million low-income Americans each year.

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