​​Major League History

Signed Letter From Marvin Miller to Hall of Famer Max Carey with Historic Content

Marvin Miller became one of the most important figures in baseball history by building the major league players union into a force that revolutionized the game and ultimately transformed all of professional sports.  In 1966, When Miller was first named as the executive director of the players' association, club owners ruled much as they had since the 19th century under baseball's 'reserve clause'. The reserve clause bound players to their teams for as long as the owners wanted them, leaving them with little bargaining power.  In December 1975, after nearly a decade of hard negotiation by Miller and the players union an arbitrator named Peter Seitz ruled on a case brought by Miller on behalf of Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally. Ruling in favor of Miller and the players, Seitz invalidated the reserve clause in the standard player contract.  Seitz found that the reserve clause, which allowed contracts to be extended for one year at management’s option upon their expiration, did not mean that contracts could be extended in perpetuity. Once a player refused to re-sign after the expiration of that one-year extension, Mr. Seitz ruled, he could sell his pitching prowess or hitting skills to the highest bidder.  And thus began the modern-day system of free-agency.

This type written letter, dated April 8, 1975 is addressed to Max Carey, one of the greatest players of the 1910's and 20's in response to an inquiry Miller received from him.  In it, Miller expresses his delight in watching Carey play in the 20's and early 30's in Brooklyn (Carey played for Brooklyn in his final years from 1926-29).  Miller goes on to explain the origins of the Players Association and also more significantly, agrees with Carey that "the reserve rule system as presently constituted puts players at a disadvantage and, accordingly, should be revised."  Peter Seitz's decision, only 8 months later, would set the players free from the century old reserve clause.

The content of this letter couldn't be much better.  Signed by one of baseball's most historic figures and addressed to one of baseball's all-time great players, the letter perhaps eludes to Miller's premonition that something big was about to happen in baseball.  In fact it did, and it has changed not only baseball but all sports.  The signature is authentic and the letter bears a hologram from B&E Collectibles, a respected long-time dealer of baseball memorabilia.  A one of a kind treasure - $350.

Autograph Album Page signed by 1951 and 1952 New York Yankee World Series Champions - 

The New York Yankees absolutely dominated the 1950s appearing in 8 out of the 10 World Series of the decade and winning 6 of them.  This vintage paper page has been removed from an autograph album.  It is signed by 12 members of the 1951 and 1952  Yankees championship teams highlighted by legendary manager Casey Stengel.  Signatures on one side are:  1.  Joe Page (taped over)  2.  Ed Lopat  3.  Johnny Hopp 4.  Art Schallock  5.  Spec Shea  6.  Casey Stengle  the other side:  7.  Bill Miller  8.  Jim Turner  9.  Gil McDougald  10.  Jim McDonald  11.  Harry Schaefer  12.  Johnny Sain  Price - $125


1954 NY GIANTS TEAM Display with HORACE STONEHAM Signed Check and PCL Legend Frank Shellenback

Attention San Francisco Giants fans, honor your team's rich history with this beautiful display which includes a signed piece from one of the most important figures in Giants' history.  Team owner Horace Stoneham was the man responsible for moving the Giants from New York to San Francisco in 1958.  This large 14 x 11 includes a cancelled check bearing Horace Stoneham's bold blue ink authenitic signature. Stoneham died over 25 years ago in 1990.  His signed items are becoming more scarce as time goes by.

Several other desirable qualities enhance the value of this attractive black and white 8 x 10 glossy photo which shows the Giants during their 1954 World Championship season.  The check signed by Stoneham is payable to another historically significant baseball figure, Frank V. Shellenback.  Shellenback is the all-time leader in Pacific Coast League victories with 295 and over 300 lifetime minor league victories total in his storied career.  He was a pitching coach for the 1950's Giants teams.

This important piece will appeal to baseball historians, Giants fans and collectors of Pacific Coast League memorabilia.  The photo and check are affixed to an black 11 x 14 mat ready for a frame of your choosing.  Price - $150.

2006 All-Star Futures Team Signed Baseball

Signed by 17 members of the 2006 All-Star Futures team: West Panel) Ryan Braun, Billy Butler, Nick Adenhart, Joe Koshansky;  East) Neil Walker, Homer Bailey, Alex Gordon, Gio Gonzalez;  North) Travis Buck, Stephen Drew, Kurt Suzuki, Jason Hirsh;  South) Howie Kendrick, Cameron Maybin, Troy Tulowitzki;  and manager Gary Carter on the sweet spot.

The US team managed by Gary Carter banged out 11 hits including a home run by game MVP Billy Bulter en route to an 8-5 victory over the World Team.

Rookie autographs of several potential future Hall of Famers adorn this MLB authenticated ball.  - $150.

Anthony Keith Gwynn Topps Baseball Card Contract

This 1994 Topps baseball card contract is signed by Hall of Fame outfielder, Tony Gwynn.  A rarity among Gwynn autographs, he has signed using his full legal name Anthony Keith Gwynn.  The beautiful signature is dated 3/14/94, also in Gwynn's hand.

Not to be overlooked, the contract is also signed by Sy Berger.  Baseball card enthusiasts know Berger as the "father of the modern baseball cards".  An employee of Topps for over 50 years, he designed the 1952 Topps baseball cards.

This is a one-of-a-kind item in that there are no other 1994 Topps baseball card contracts signed by Gwynn in existence.  The contract originates from the Topps Vault and comes with their certificate of authenticity.  A Topps Vault hologram (#00365) is also affixed to the back.

Tony Gwynn was not just any baseball player.  A 15 time All-Star, "Mr. Padre" played 20 seasons in San Diego.  He won 8 batting titles which is second most in baseball history.  Since 1960, no player has retired with a higher career batting average (.338).  A first ballot hall of famer, Gwynn was the greatest and most consistent hitter of his era never batting below .309 in any season after his rookie year.  His high of .394 in 1994 (the year of this contract) is the closest any man has come to .400 since Ted Williams in 1941.  Sadly, Tony Gwynn passed away on June 16, 2014 at the age of 54.  Sy Berger also passed away in 2014.

Its connection to Topps baseball cards, the rare full signature of Gywnn, the greatness of the men who signed, combined with Gwynn's early death all add to the investment potential of this unique piece. Tony Gwynn fans, Hall of Fame autograph collectors, and collectors of Topps baseball cards will all find this contract to be a very desirable addition to their collection.  Price - $500

1975 Original Signed Wire Photo Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Get Me To The Park In Style -- 

On December 31, 1974, baseball's best pitcher, Jim "Catfish" Hunter signed with the New York Yankees after a contract dispute with Oakland A's owner Charles O. Finley.  Hunter's contract with the A's said he was to be paid $100,000 by the A's in 1974, with $50,000 to be paid up front and the remaining $50,000 to be paid monthly on an insurance annuity.  Finley was late in making good on the annuity payments.  The dispute opened the door for Marvin Miller, head of the MLB Players Association, to take Hunter's case to arbitration.  Arbitrator Peter Seitz ruled in favor of Hunter, thereby voiding baseball's century old "reserve clause" which had effectively given player "ownership" rights to team owners up to that point in time.  Seitz's decision had made Catfish baseball's first modern era free-agent and set the wheels in motion for the elimination of the reserve clause.

Hunter's new found freedom resulted in an all out bidding war for baseball's best pitcher.  The New York Yankees won the war with a five-year deal worth $3.75 million, along with a $1 million signing bonus, by far the biggest contract in baseball history at that time.

The news caption on the reverse of this original wire photo reads:  GET ME TO THE PARK IN STYLE -- Catfish Hunter, New York Yankee pitcher who signed for an estimated $3.75 million over five years to do his thing this season, steps down from a Brink's truck, an appropriate conveyance for baseball's most affluent super star.  This is Hunter's way of getting to the park on time, as seen in a segment of Joe Caragiola's light-hearted special, "'Next Year' Is Here," which will be colorcast on the NBC Television Network Sunday, April 6.  

A wire photo is copy of an original photo to which the rights were sold to various newspapers, magazines, etc for use in their publication.  This photo would have been created and used very close to the 4/6/75 date.  This photo has a lot of great qualities which make it very collectible.  It is autographed by one of baseball's great all-time Hall of Fame pitchers, Jim "Catfish" Hunter.  It is over 40 years old.  It is a great shot of an historic baseball event.  The photo is in excellent condition for its age.  The autograph is authenticated by JSA (#M57773).  Catfish Hunder passed away at the relatively young age of 53 years old in 1999.  Collectors of vintage photos, Yankee memorabilia, Hall of Fame autographs, and baseball history will all find this a desirable piece.  Price - $60.

1917 Notice of Player's Release signed by Branch Rickey from the Estate of Phil Todt

This Notice of Player's Release is signed by one of the most important historical figures in baseball. 

Fans of history know Branch Rickey as the man who pioneered the integration of black players into major league baseball beginning with Jackie Robinson in 1947.  Rickey's influence on baseball cannot be overstated.  At approximately 6 1/4" by 4 1/4", this century old contract features one of the nicest and earliest signatures of Rickey you will find.

Besides bearing one of the most historic signatures in baseball history, this contract has a secondary tale of intrigue fit for the pages of a baseball novel.  This document was part of an assemblage of personal items from the estate of former Major League player Philip Todt, originally of St. Louis,

Missouri.  In the spring of 1917 Todt was only 15 years old but

already drawing attention from numerous big league clubs.  

Branch Rickey at that time served as a scout and vice president

of the St. Louis Cardinals.  Rickey, having an eye for great talent

even at that early stage of his administrative career, saw potential

in Todt and offered him a contract.  The deal fell through

however when Todt's father refused to co-sign because it would

have meant young Phil would have had to drop out of high

school.  As such, the Cardinals sent this notice signed by Branch Rickey

informing Todt of his release to the minor league club of Sherman in the Western Association where the Cardinals hoped he would play in his school off-time.  Eventually Todt was traded to the Boston Red sox where he began his big league career at the age of 22.  Todt played 7 good seasons with the Red Sox, his best coming in 1925 when he batted .278 with 11 home runs and 75 RBI.

Included with the Branch Rickey signed Player's Release is an original real photo post card circa 1926. Price for the pair - $550.

Collection of Ten (10) "Greatest Thrill" Signed Postcards from Baseball Superstars and Hall of Famers 

In 1973, a persistent and dedicated baseball fan wrote to some of baseball's all-time greatest players asking them what the greatest thrill in their career was.  This is the reward for his work, a collection of ten remarkable responses shared by greats of the game.  Examples:

Freddie Linstrom - "My greatest sports thrill occurred in the 5th game of the 1924 World Series when I made 4 hits off the immortal Walter Johnson.  P.S. I was only 18 yrs old at the time this happened."

Ralph Kiner - "If I could get it down to the one greatest it might be when I hit my 50th home run in my second year of major league ball in 1947"

Waite Hoyt - "Dear Marty: 4 thrills. 1) Signing at age fifteen (Youngest at that time) 2) Winnings first game for Boston Red Sox beating Detroit --2-1  12 innings 3) Winnings first world series game--Yanks 3 Giants 0.  Giants getting but two hits. 4) Perhaps greatest.  Entry into Hall of Fame 1969"

Ernie Lombardi - "My great thrill was being voted most valuable player in the league."

Plus other cherished memories from Enos Slaughter, George Selkirk, Cecil Travis, Bucky Walters, Ken Keltner, and Ted Kluszewski.

All of these players are long since deceased making these preserved remembrances even more significant.  A truly important assemblage.  Lot of (10) - $325

Vintage Magazine Photo Signed by Zack Wheat

An attractive approx 4x5/12" clipped magazine photo signed by Brookly Dodger Hall of Fame outfielder Zak Wheat.  Wheat died in 1972.  See picture for great history.  Price -$100.