The Beckett Blog

First superagent’s personal archive hits auction block by Chris Olds

By Amar Shah | Guest contributor

All it took was a case of beer and The Babe was his.

Before David Falk, Drew Rosenhaus and “Jerry Maguire,” there was Christy Walsh, the first super athlete agent. In 1921, Walsh, a sports cartoonist and trained lawyer, took on a new gig syndicating ghostwritten articles written by celebrities to newspapers around the country.  His most famous client at that point had been Eddie Rickenbacker, a World War I flying ace turned race car driver.  But Walsh had a bigger target in mind.

In 1920, Babe Ruth hit 54 home runs in his first season as a New York Yankee.  Walsh found his man.  However, Ruth proved elusive, avoiding the overzealous Walsh whenever he stalked him on the streets of New York City.

Walsh even managed to get himself kicked out of the Ansonia Hotel where Ruth was living.  But according to Tom Stanton, author of  “Ty and the Babe,” in the winter of 1921, Walsh was waiting for Ruth when he overheard a grocer next door to the hotel taking a beer order from Ruth’s room.

Walsh persuaded the fellow to let him deliver the case and five minutes later he was in Ruth’s suite trying to convince The Bambino of his plan to make money.  Ruth was enticed and asked Walsh to meet him the next day.

On Feb. 21, 1921, Ruth signed a single-spaced document in which he agreed to syndicate a series of articles and baseball interviews from the beginning of the season till the end of the World Series. The profits would be split by Walsh and Ruth down the middle.

The contract itself was sold at auction in August for more than $20,000 as part of The Christy Walsh Collection that includes a treasure trove of autographs, documents and photos from Walsh’s personal archive.  The second lot of the estate will be auctioned off next month through Heritage Auctions — a collection that also includes personal checks signed by Ruth.

Walsh went on to manage some of the era’s greatest athletes including Knute Rockne, Ty Cobb and Lou Gehrig. But it was Ruth for whom Walsh had the most lucrative partnership helping The Babe become a household name.  In fact, in 1921, Walsh  also signed Ruth to a vaudeville deal that would pay him $3000 a week for 20-week tour.

Let’s see Scott Boras do that.


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