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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Bath Ruth's Curse To Be Auctioned

This is all that remains of "The Curse:" five neatly typed pages, two bold signatures, and the scars from 86 years of torment.

The torment was free. But the original 1919 contract delivering Babe Ruth from Boston to the Bronx, forever altering baseball history and the pysches of countless Red Sox fans, is expected to draw bids of more than $500,000 when it goes on the auction block June 10.

Signed by Red Sox owner Harry Frazee and his Yankees counterpart, Jacob Ruppert, the Dec. 26, 1919, document was typed out on legal paper to record the $100,000 deal that spawned "The Curse of the Bambino."

The Sox had won the World Series one year before the sale. Once Ruth was peddled to the pinstripers, Boston wouldn't win another world championship until last year -- suffering some of the most painful defeats in sports history along the way.

In between, the Yankees won 26 world championships.

The contract, currently owned by a Rhode Island philanthropist, is the featured item in an auction heavy on Red Sox memorabilia -- including the first baseball thrown at the 1912 opening of Fenway Park.

In all, the auction features more than 350 lots with an anticipated take of more than $5 million. At least the auction won't be held in the Bronx; the sale this coming Friday is set for Sotheby's in midtown Manhattan.

Despite its age, the Ruth contract remains in excellent condition, according to Sotheby's. There is some discoloration from aging, along with a rust mark where the five-page document was held together by a paper clip.

Philanthropist Alan Shawn Feinstein said the money generated by the sale of the contract will go to the hunger relief organization America's Second Harvest, which provides food for 23 million low-income Americans each year.

The priciest Babe memorabilia ever was the massive 46-ounce Louisville Slugger used to drill the first home run in Yankee Stadium history; it brought a Ruthian price of $1.26 million, the most paid for a baseball bat.

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