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1929 Bill Dickey New York Yankees Rookie Contract
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $2,938
Four-page fold-over contract, dated April 12, 1929, between Bill Dickey and the American League Base Ball Club of New York, signed in black fountain pen by both "Bill Dickey" (grading "10") and Jacob Ruppert ("10"), owner of the Yankees (Ruppert's signature has been penned by Ed Barrow, general manager of the club). Also signed in black fountain pen ("9") by Ernest Barnard in his capacity as American League president. The one-year agreement calls for Dickey to receive a yearly salary of $3,000; however, Ruppert has added a handwritten addendum, which he then initialed (again totally in Barrow's hand), reading "Dickey to receive an additional sum of one thousand dollars if he is retained by the New York Club all season." Dickey signed his first professional contract in 1925 with Little Rock of the Southern Association, but he also spent time with Muskogee of the Western Association and Jackson of the Cotton State League during his first four minor league seasons. Wherever he played, the scouts took notice. Yankees scout Johnny Nee was so high on the young catcher that he wired general manager Ed Barrow, "If this boy doesn't make it, I'll quit scouting." The Yankees took Nee's advice and in 1928 purchased Dickey's contract, but only on the condition that he start the season with Little Rock. After sixty games with Little Rock, and a quick three games with Buffalo in the International League, Dickey was finally promoted to the Yankees. Manager Miller Huggins was already a big fan of Dickey's at the time, telling reporters, "I have a hunch about this kid because every other club is trying to make a deal for him. We bought him from Little Rock for $12,500. Today we could sell him for $35,000." Dickey made his Major League debut with the club on August 15, 1928, but saw limited action with the Yankees the rest of the way, appearing in a total of ten games and batting .200 in just fifteen at bats. As evidenced by the offered contract, those fifteen at bats were apparently enough to convince the Yankees that Dickey was their man and they made him their starting catcher in 1929. Dickey had no problem collecting the extra $1,000 stipulated in the contract. All he did during his rookie campaign was bat .324 with 10 home runs and 65 RBI in 130 games. Dickey remained a fixture behind the plate with the Yankees for fifteen more seasons, leading the club to eight pennants and seven World Championships over that span. One of the greatest hitting catchers in the history of the game, Dickey finished his career with a .313 average, 202 home runs, and 1,209 RBI. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1954. Baseball contracts of Hall of Fame players, especially those dating from their respective playing careers (let alone dating from the 1920s), are rare and the offered example is no exception. To the best of our knowledge this is the earliest Bill Dickey contract extant and we cannot recall having seen another at public auction. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds and is in Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,500+. SOLD FOR $2,938
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