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by Harold Friend
On February 26, 1935, Babe Ruth returned to Boston. Baseball's greatest player signed with the Braves, hoping to play for and eventually manage Boston's other team.
It was a dark, cold, rainy day when Yankees' owner Colonel Jacob Ruppert, Braves' owner Judge Emil Fuchs, and Babe Ruth met before a contingent of reporters at the Colonel's brewery. After exchanging formalities, Colonel Ruppert handed Babe a brief document.
February 26, 1935,
Mr. George H. Ruth:
You are hereby notified as follows: That you are hereby unconditionally released,
Signed, Jacob Ruppert, President
Colonel Ruppert Was Not Making a Cent
The Colonel made a speech, complimenting the man everyone called "Babe," but whom he referred to as "Ruth." He wished Ruth every success and would not stand in the way of Ruth bettering himself by joining the Braves. He made certain that everyone knew that Ruth was going to make money, Fuchs was getting baseball's greatest player, and that he, the Yankees' owner, was not getting cent. He was simply giving Ruth his unconditional release.
Babe expressed his thanks to the Colonel. Since he no longer could be a regular, Babe said he was grateful to Mr. Fuchs for giving him the chance to play for the Braves. His duties would include being a team vice president, consultant, and assistant manager.
Reactions Ran the Gamut
Reactions ran the full gamut. Athletics manager Connie Mack expressed disappointment and worried how the Babe's departure would affect the American League. Cardinals' manager Frankie Frisch thought Ruth would be a great asset to the National League and to the Braves.
Braves' manager Bill McKechnie, who was getting an assistant manager he didn't need, followed the party line. "Ruth will be an asset to any ball club just as long as he can step up to the plate."
When he was asked if he would remain the Braves' manager, McKechnie responded, "Yes, until I am advised otherwise. You know, no ball club can have two managers and I will continue to direct the club on he field. If the club decides to make Ruth manager, naturally I will step down."
No Player is Worth $80,000
Dizzy Dean had a different opinion. "He made all his money in the American League, so why doesn't he stay there? I don't believe he was ever worth $80,000 a year. I don't believe I am worth it and I don't believe there ever will be a player entitled to that much money for playing one season."
Dean Defended McKechnie
Dean defended Bill McKechnie. "There's one of the finest guys in the game. Baseball has been good to Ruth. He's made enough money. Why come over to the National League and knock a fellow like McKechnie out of a job? I resent Ruth coming to the National League and I think practically every player in the league will feel the same way about it."
What a Difference
What a difference 75 years make. It is unimaginable that any of today's ballplayers would criticize one of their own for trying to make more money. The fans are another story. Most think that players are overpaid, which is not true when their salaries are compared to other entertainers, but the players stick together. Think of the firestorm if a player laced into Derek Jeter's contract the way Dizzy Dean laced into the Babe. Wouldn't it be fun?
Reg. U.S. Pat. Off., By JOHN KIERAN.. (1935, February 27). Sports of the Times :This Way to Boston.. New York Times (1857-Current file),24. Retrieved May 31, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 93457158).
By The Associated Press.. (1935, February 27). NATIONAL LEAGUE HAILS RUTH'S SHIFT :Entire Circuit Benefited by Transfer to Braves, Owners and Managers Assert.. New York Times (1857-Current file),23. Retrieved May 31, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 93457145).
M'KECHNIE CALLS BABE BIG ASSET :Braves to Be Congratulated for Obtaining Services of Star, Says Manager.. (1935, February 27). New York Times (1857-Current file),23. Retrieved May 31, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 93457143).
By The Associated Press.. (1935, February 27). Dizzy Dean Sharply Condemns Ruth's Move In Leaving League That Paid Him Fortune. New York Times (1857-Current file),23. Retrieved May 31, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 93457142).