New York Yankee slugger Babe Ruth (1855-1948) was negotiating a new contract with the team during the start of the Great Depression. Yankee ownership believed that Ruth was asking for too much money and reporters pointed out that Ruth was well paid, making more than U.S. President Herbert Hoover. Ruth is said to have replied, “What the hell has Hoover got to do with this? Anyway, I had a better year than he did.” This line has been cited in print since at least 1948, when it was also stated that Ruth signed a two-year contract at $70,000 per season.
A March 1930 newspaper reported that Ruth had just signed a two-year contract with the Yankees for $80,000 a season. Contemporary 1930 citations containing the saying appear to be lacking.
Wikiquote: Babe Ruth
George Herman Ruth (6 February 1895 – 16 August 1948) was an American Major League Baseball player from 1914 to 1935, named as the greatest baseball player in history in various surveys and rankings. His career record of 714 home runs stood for 39 years until surpassed by Hank Aaron with 755 home runs in 1974.
What the hell has Hoover got to do with it? Besides, I had a better year than he did.
. Anecdote of his response on being asked how he felt holding out for a salary higher than that of the US President, (variously reported as having been in 1929 or 1930) as quoted in Baseball: A History of America’s Game (2002) by Benjamin G. Rader, p. 134
. Unsourced variants : Hey, I had a better year than he did.
. Why not, I had a better year than he did.
. I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.
9 March 1930, Dallas (TX) Morning News, “I see in The News this morning that,” pg. 1, col. 8:
Babe Ruth signs two-year contract with Yankees at $80,000 per season.
26 February 1948, Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch, “The Sportview” by Chauncey Durden, pg. 18, col. 1:
Some of Ruth’s sports-writing friends tried to explain to him the hard economic facts of the depression to him. One of them, all but drawing a diagram for the Big Fellow, pointed out that Ruth was demanding, in the middle of a depression, more money that Herbert Hoover received as President of the United States of America. And, relates Tom Meany in his “Babe Ruth,” the Great Man roared:
“What the hell has Hoover got to do with this? Anyway, I had a better year than he did.”
Just the same the record reveals that Ruth did take a cut, signing a two-year contract at $70,000 per season.