Ruth became irritated.
"I already told you I'll play the best I can. Let's get down to business. How much are you going to pay me?"
Huggins mentioned the two years left on Ruth's $10,000 contract.
"I want a lot more dough than that," said Babe.
"All right," Huggins said. "If you promise to behave yourself, Colonel Ruppert will give you a new contract."
"For how much?"
Huggins mentioned $15,000 a year and then $17,500. Ruth said no. He repeated what he had told Frazee during the autumn. He wanted his salary doubled to $20,000. He also wanted a piece of the money the Red Sox would be getting for him. Huggins shook his head. He would have to get in touch with New York. They shook hands and parted. When they met again there was more haggling, but they finally came to terms and Ruth signed an agreement. Technically, he would continue under his old contract—$10,000 a year for 1920 and 1921—but he would also receive an immediate bonus of $1,000 and then $20,000 more over the next two years, to be paid in $2,500 installments at regular intervals during each season. The Yankees could do nothing about giving him a percentage of the money they were paying Frazee.
In sum, then, Ruth received $41,000 from the Yankees for the 1920 and 1921 seasons. Huggins wired Ruppert, and in New York on Monday, Jan. 5, 1920, the press was called in and told the startling news that the Red Sox had sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
In Boston the story created consternation. A cartoon appeared in one of the newspapers showing Faneuil Hall and the Boston Public Library decked with for-sale signs. Frazee faced the criticism coolly and blandly blamed Ruth for Boston's sixth-place finish in 1919. "It would be impossible to start next season with Ruth and have a smooth-working machine," he said. " Ruth had become simply impossible, and the Boston club could no longer put up with his eccentricities. I think the Yankees are taking a gamble. While Ruth is undoubtedly the greatest hitter the game has ever seen, he is likewise one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men ever to put on a baseball uniform."
Sportswriters dutifully echoed that theme, one school of thought holding that Ruth would never again be the player he was in 1919.