On this day a hundred years ago, the New York Yankees bought Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for “just” $100,000. But did you know that Fenway Park would also be part of the deal?
According to the legend, financially strapped Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to generate money for his theatre production No No Nanette. Next to the sale of the Great Bambino, Frazee got a $300,000 loan from the Yankees. The collateral was Fenway Park. Can you imagine what would have happened if Frazee would not have been able to pay the loan?
The “legend” of “No no Nanette” being the cause for the sale of Babe Ruth is actually nonsense. The musical was produced in 1925, so 5 years after the sale of Ruth.
If the sale of Ruth would have been the only transaction by Frazee to the Yankees but it was by no means. After their World Series win in 1918, Frazee traded outfielder Duffy Lewis, pitcher Dutch Leonard and pitcher Ernie Shore to the Yankees and got four players and $15,000 in return. In the following years, many Red Sox players would follow. Of the 1923 championship team, eleven players previously played for the Red Sox.
From that 26th of December, 1919 on, the Yankees went on to win 26 championships before the Red Sox would eventually break the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004.
As Frazee was the owner of the Red Sox since 1916, he wasn’t the owner of Fenway Park. The ballpark was owned by the Fenway Park Trust. Even though the club was in debt, Frazee felt he had to own Fenway Park as well. That is what he needed the $300,000 loan for. Eventually, in 1920, Frazee bought Fenway Park. Only three years later he would sell the club, ballpark included, to Bob Quinn. But under Quinn’s ownership, the club didn’t fare much better.