Welcome to Lelands - Sports Memorabilia and Card Auctions

Lot # 6: 1921 New York Yankees Cancelled Promissory Note Relating to the Sale of Babe Ruth and the Financing of Yankee Stadium (ex-Barry Halper Collection)

Starting Bid: $5,000.00

Bids: 1 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "2023 Summer Classic",
which ran from 7/16/2023 7:00 PM to
8/5/2023 10:00 PM

Cancelled promissory note issued by the New York Yankees to themselves on July 2, 1921, directly relating to both the sale of Babe Ruth's contract on December 26, 1919, and financing for the construction of Yankee Stadium (which was built in 1923). Signed three times each by Yankees owners Jacob Ruppert and T. L. Huston. PSA has encapsulated the note and certified all the signatures as authentic. The three-month note, in the amount of $25,000, is made out to "Ourselves," but was later cancelled by Yankees general manager Ed Barrow, who tore out both the black-ink signatures of Ruppert and Huston on the front (small portions of each remain intact). Both Barrow and Huston endorsed the note twice on the reverse, but a small portion of one of the Ruppert signatures is affected by the tear. 

The reason for the cancellation is made clear in a one-page typed letter, dated July 6, 1921, from Huston to Barrow, a photocopy of which accompanies the offered note. (The original letter is included as part of the cancelled 1919 New York Yankees promissory note to the Red Sox, which is featured elsewhere in this auction). The Yankees issued this note to themselves because Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee requested that the Yankees discount the third and final $25,000 promissory note for the purchase of Ruth's contract, which was payable by the Yankees on November 1, 1922. Frazee was desperate for cash at the time, and could not wait another ten months for the note to come due.

As the accompanying copy letter explains, the Yankees agreed to discount the note and decided to use the original note as collateral for a note to themselves. The Yankees were also facing a cash flow problem, and as Huston alludes to in his letter, they needed cash to finance the construction of Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, the bank mistakenly instructed Barrow that it did not need the original promissory note that was being used as collateral, which caused Barrow to cancel both the original note and the Yankees related note offered here. The promissory note (7.75x3.25") displays the aforementioned tear in the lower right, a vertical fold, a paperclip impression, and a $5 stamp affixed to the reverse. 

This note, along with nearly every other surviving document relating to the sale of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, originates from the estate of Ed Barrow, who was manager of the Boston Red Sox at the time of the transaction, and soon after became the longtime business manager/general manager of the New York Yankees. Many years after Barrow's death, legendary collector Barry Halper purchased Barrow's entire business archive from the Barrow family, which included dozens of documents relating to Boston's historic sale of Ruth. (Barry Halper's collection is considered by many to have been the finest private baseball-memorabilia collection ever assembled.) In 1999, Halper sold nearly his entire collection at auction through Sotheby's in New York (the collection was so vast that it took over a week of twice-daily live auctions and three months of weekly internet sales to liquidate it). Lot 560 in the live-auction portion of the sale featured a large collection of documents relating to the sale of Ruth, from which this note, as well as every other "sale of Ruth" document featured in this auction, originates. The entire content of Lot 560 in the 1999 Sotheby's Halper Collection auction has been consigned to our 2023 Spring and Summer Classic auctions by the original purchaser, making this just the third time since 1919 that these historically significant documents will have traded hands.

Views: 845