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1931 Ernie Lombardi Brooklyn Dodgers Rookie Contract
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $2,938
Four-page fold-over contract, dated March 11, 1931, between Ernie Lombardi and the Brooklyn National League Baseball Club, Inc., signed in black fountain pen by “Ernest Lombardi” (“10”) and “Frank B. York” (“10”), president of the club. The stamped facsimile signature of National League president John Heydler also appears on the document. The one-year agreement, for the 1931 season, calls for Lombardi to receive a salary of $6,650. This historic document represents Ernie Lombardi’s first Major League contract and, as such, represents Lombardi's transition from stardom in the Pacific Coast League to the stardom in the Major Leagues. Lombardi began his professional baseball career at the age of eighteen in 1926 and spent a five-year apprenticeship in the Pacific Coast League before being traded from Oakland to Brooklyn on January 19, 1931. Lombardi appeared in seventy-three games with the Robins during his rookie season, batting .297 with 4 home runs and 23 RBI. Nicknamed “Schnozz” for his rather large nose, Lombardi was the prototypical catcher of the era: large and slow. What Lombardi could do however, better than nearly all of his peers, was hit. One of the game's most dangerous batters, Lombardi was known for his vicious line drives. Because he was so slow, and wishing to protect themselves, infielders often positioned themselves in the outfield when Lombardi came to bat. Lombardi once commented that Pee Wee Reese was in the league three years before he realized he wasn’t an outfielder. Despite the fact that such defensive maneuvers cost him many hits over the years, Lombardi still managed to bat over .300 on ten separate occasions and win two batting titles in his seventeen seasons. He finished his career with a .306 average, which is no small feat for a catcher. During his time in Cincinnati Lombardi often publicly feuded with general manager Warren Giles over salary, a battle that would come back to haunt him in later years. Giles, who was a particularly powerful member of the Hall of Fame, openly lobbied against Lombardi’s election. Unfortunately it wasn’t until after Giles passed away that Lombardi was rightfully elected to the Hall, posthumously, in 1986. Baseball contracts of Hall of Fame players, especially those dating from their respective playing careers, are rare and the offered example is no exception. This is the not only the first Lombardi contract we have ever offered but the first we have ever seen. The fact that it is his rookie contract makes it all the more significant and desirable. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds, along the edges and intersections of which are a few tiny tears. In Very Good to Excellent condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000+. SOLD FOR $2,938
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