1934 Burleigh Grimes Signed Pittsburgh Pirates Contract - The Last of the Spitball Pitchers - Final Major League Contract!
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $10,665
This is an historic contract with a story. It represents the end of an era: Grimes was the last of the legal "spitball" pitchers. 1934 was his final season. This is his final contract. In 1920, when both leagues decided to ban the spitball, they decided to allow those pitchers already established as "spitball" pitchers to continue to throw the pitch while forbidding its use by any other pitchers. In that way they preserved the livelihoods of those pitchers who had always relied on the spitball, but also set the stage for the eventual elimination of the pitch from the game. Grimes was one of seventeen pitchers "grandfathered in" under those newly modified rules and by 1934 he was the very last one remaining. Four-page fold-over contract, dated August 8, 1934, between Burleigh Grimes and the Pittsburgh Athletic Company, signed in black fountain pen by "Burleigh A. Grimes" (grading "10") and "Wm. E. Benswanger" ("9") as president. The front of the contract has also been signed in black ink ("10") by John Heydler in his capacity as National League President. The one-year agreement, "for the balance of the season," calls for Grimes to receive a salary of $2,000. This is Grimes final major league contract as a player (he later managed, coached, and served as a scout). A veteran of eighteen seasons, he began the season with the St. Louis Cardinals but was released on May 15th. Two weeks later he signed with the New York Yankees. His stay in New York was also brief, ending with his release on July 31st. On April 8th, as documented here, he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he recorded the 270th and final win of his career on September 10th in New York against the Giants. Through the use of his "spitter," Grimes reigned as one of the best pitchers in baseball during the 1920s, winning twenty or more games on five occasions, including league-leading totals in both 1921 (22) and 1928 (25). Except for his two-month tenure with the Yankees, his entire career was spent in the National League. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964. 104 of Hall of Fame players are rare and the offered example is no exception. This is the first Grimes contract we have ever offered and we cannot recall having seen any others at public auction. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays very light toning and is in Excellent to Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $200. Estimate $500+. SOLD FOR $10,665