Be Like the Babe!

From 1924 to 1930, Harry Heilmann worked in the off-baseball season as a licensed insurance agent. He was a star baseball player with the Detroit Tigers and was the Batting champion four times with them. As a result he became very good friends with Babe Ruth, and in fact sold one or more annuity policies to the Babe (and his girlfriend then wife Clara Mae Merritt Hodgson). The Babe had Heilmann come to New York and complete these annuity purchases in 1924 to 1930.  the Babe and Mrs. Ruth subsequently started taking $1000 a month withdrawals from these accounts right after the Great Depression to maintain their lifestyle.

Purportedly there may have been more than one annuity contract and more than one annuity (life insurance) company used. These accounts were started with approx. $35,000; and $50,000. each beginning as early as 1924 and the last one in early 1929.

In retrospect, the “Babe” must have seemed like a financial mastermind back when it was all crashing around. His decision to transfer money from more “risky” investments into safer ones was sheer genius.

The Nasdaq has dropped 16% over the last 5 days, the worse since 2000.  Just today alone, it closed down 5.8%.

More and more we are reminded that the stock market–and on a more macro scale–our entire economy, is truly cyclical. Many believe we are already in a recession, if not heading for another depression. On that same note, I had an upbeat talk with one of my client’s today, as we both cautiously rejoiced. Why? Well, while things may change quickly in this volatile economy, fortunately for him, he has annuity guarantees that are in place!

I first started working with him three years ago. Back then and six months ago, we put two $25,000 chunks into equity-indexed annuities. Although he was in the market we decided to further diversify his holdings. Thankfully, that $50,000 has retained its entire value.

It was a great lesson for both of us…be like the Babe!


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