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1915 George Kelly New York Giants Contract - Kelly's First Major League Contract!
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $11,258
Four-page foldover contract, dated July 29, 1915, between George Kelly and the New York Base Ball Club, signed in black fountain pen by "G. L. Kelly" ("10") and "H. N. Hempstead" ("10"), as president.
It is extremely rare to find a Major League player's contract for a Hall of Famer from so early a date. The three-month agreement, from July 15 to October 15, 1915, calls for Kelly to receive a total salary of $1,800. This is George "Highpockets" Kelly's first major league contract, signed when he was just eighteen years old. Kelly began the 1915 season with the Victoria Bees, a Class B club in the Northwestern League. Despite batting just .250 with the Bees, the Giants purchased his contract in July. They did so mainly on the recommendation of former nineteenth-century major league standout Bill "Little Eva" Lange, who also just happened to be Kelly's uncle. Kelly saw little playing time during his brief first season with the Giants, appearing in just seventeen games. In thirty-eight at bats Kelly hit one home run, drove in four runs, and finished with a .158 average. However, Manager John McGraw took a liking to him and for most of Kelly's first year he sat next to McGraw on the bench, soaking up information like a sponge. Despite all of the instruction he received, Kelly's bat was slow to come around, and it wasn't until five years later, in 1920, that he finally took over as the Giants starting first baseman. Kelly was one of the key members of the New York Giants 1921-1923 baseball dynasty, helping to lead the club to three pennants and two World Championships during that span. He was also one of the top fielding first basemen of the era, and he joined Frank Frisch, Dave Bancroft, and Heinie Groh in what many consider to be the best Giants infield of all time. Kelly batted over .300 for six consecutive seasons (1921-1926) and twice hit three home runs in one game. He also knocked in 100 or more runs four years in a row, capped by a League- and career-high 136 in 1924. He finished his career with a .297 lifetime average, 148 home runs, and 1,020 RBI. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1973. 104 of Hall of Fame players are rare and the offered example is no exception. This is the first Kelly contract we have ever offered and we cannot recall having seen another at public auction. The contract (8.5 x 14 inches) displays three normal horizontal folds and two staples at the top border. In Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $11,258
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