On this day in 1920, the New York Yankees purchased Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox for $125,000.
In this gallery, LIFE.com presents rare and unpublished photos from the day of his final public appearance at Yankee Stadium; two months before his death of cancer on August 16, 1948. Morse — 93 years old, and as sharp as ever — recently spoke with LIFE and recalled what it was like to photograph one of the 20th century’s greatest athletes as the Babe said his final, poignant goodbye.
“I took the pictures, and headed down to the LIFE offices with the film,” Morse says. “But when I got there, Ed Thompson, the managing editor, says, ‘Sorry, Ralph. We couldn’t wait for you. We closed the page.’ Well, that was that. The issue was closed, and I lost the page I was shooting for. They put some sort of Hollywood s—- or something in there instead. I don’t remember. But it was all right. That sort of thing happened all the time. And the pictures I got were good, even if the magazine never used them.”