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.
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.
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 the game dramatically. 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. Price - $350.
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 4 x 5 1/2" clipped magazine photo signed by Brookly Dodger Hall of Fame outfielder Zak Wheat. Wheat died in 1972. See picture for great history. Price -$100.
1939 First Day Commemorative Postal Cover Multi-Signed by Deceased Stars & HOFers
An original multi-signed 1939 commemorative postal cover with scarce autographs including Elmer Smith (d.84'), Luke Appling (d.91'), Warren Giles (d.79'), Burleigh Grimes (d.85'), Bob Meusel (d.77'), Cal Hubbard (d.77') and Mrs. Shea (May Nora Shea, d.94'). George Earnshaw is a stamp. Several difficult to find autographs all together on a unique historical item - $150.
Harry Hooper & Duffy Lewis Autographs
Two rare hall of fame autographs on one cut 3 1/4 x 3 1/2" magazine photo. Hooper died in 1974, Lewis died in 1979. Not often will you find these two legendary Red Sox players' autographs together on one piece - $100.
Major League History
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
1962 NY Mets Program Scorecard Signed by 6! Inaugural Season Shutout Win v Phillies
This is an original program and scorecard for the April 29, 1962 game between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. The program is signed on the cover by 6 of the stars from the 1962 Mets team. The bold blue ink signatures include Sammy Taylor, Frank Thomas, Joe Christopher, Don Zimmer, Choo-Choo Coleman, and Roger Craig.
The program is complete. Its back cover has significant damage from a prior scrapbook removal. The center scorecard is scored neatly in pencil. There is a light vertical fold to the front cover. The cover with the signatures has great eye appeal. It would make an absolutely wonderful framed display should you choose.
The historical value of this program is significant. This was only the 9th ever home game played by the Mets during their inaugural season. The Mets actually won this game 8-0 (one of only 40 wins their first year) behind a complete game shutout by Al Jackson. Frank Thomas blasted a home run in the 2nd inning to give the Mets an early lead and they would cruise to victory from there after exploding for 7 more runs in the 4th inning. It was one of only four shutouts by the Mets in 62', none with more runs scored. So you could say this was their finest game of the worst season in baseball history (120 losses still ranks as the most by any team in a single season) - $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