Boston Red Sox: Remembering the worst trades in franchise history

WASHINGTON, D.C. - 1919: Babe Ruth poses outside the dugout for a photo, before a game in what looks like Griffith Stadium in Washington in 1919. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - 1919: Babe Ruth poses outside the dugout for a photo, before a game in what looks like Griffith Stadium in Washington in 1919. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images) /
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CLEVELAND – 1919. Babe Ruth, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, warms up before a game in League Park in Cleveland in 1919. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images)
CLEVELAND – 1919. Babe Ruth, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, warms up before a game in League Park in Cleveland in 1919. (Photo by Mark Rucker/Transcendental Graphics, Getty Images) /

Babe Ruth

This is the biggest one in Red Sox history and whether or not you believe in curses, it was the capstone on a series of bad decisions which hampered the Red Sox for decades. Everyone knows that after winning the World Series in 1918, the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the 1919 season and they didn’t win another title until 2004.

Ruth spent the beginning of his career, from 1914-1919, with the Red Sox and was one of the best pitchers in the American League in helping them win three World Series (1915, 1916, 1918).

He was also starting to develop into the power hitter that he’d become in the 1920s and 1930s. However, as Ruth got better and better, he started to realize the three-year, $27,000 contract he signed in 1919 was less than he was worth.

In a stunning move that to this day beggars belief, then-Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth and his contract to the Yankees for roughly $100,000. The owner was deep in debt from his purchase of the team and also, as a theater buff, was looking to finance a production of the Broadway musical “No, No Nanette.” In a nutshell, he needed cash and he needed it fast.

The transaction completely altered the fortunes of both franchises for decades to come. The Yankees instantly became contenders as Ruth single-handedly revolutionized power hitting and ushered in the live-ball era in baseball.

He’d go on to lead the Yankees to seven pennants and four World Series victories during his fourteen years in New York and became an American cultural icon whose presence still looms large to this day.

As for the Red Sox, they immediately sank into the American League basement and wouldn’t finish above .500 again until 1934. They didn’t win another pennant until 1946 and didn’t win a World Series until 2004.

While it was Ruth’s hitting exploits in New York that made him the legend he still is today, in his six Boston seasons he hit .289 with 49 home runs and 224 RBI. He also went 89-46 with a 2.55 ERA and 483 strikeouts on the mound.

Ruth was on pace to be a Hall of Fame pitcher when the Red Sox traded him. Instead, he went on to become the greatest slugger in the history of the game and one of baseball’s biggest icons. The fact that he did it for the Red Sox’s most bitter rival still makes it a bitter pill to swallow even after all these years.