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    1892-94 Jim O'Rourke Signed Contract--The Oldest Privately Owned Hall of Fame Contract in Existence! Words like "historic" and "rare" seem woefully inadequate when used to describe this extraordinary Victorian-era relic dating fifteen years after O'Rourke clubbed the first hit in the history of the National League on Opening Day of 1876. In an age when contract negotiations were typically revisited annually, the three-season term of the presented example speaks volumes about the high esteem in which O'Rourke was held. The Sporting Life magazine was just one voice in the chorus of accolades:

    "O'Rourke has made a brilliant record for himself as an outfielder, being an excellent judge of a ball, a swift runner, and making the most difficult running catches with the utmost ease and certainty. As a thrower, too, he stands pre-eminent, being credited with a throw of 365 feet, the next to longest yet accomplished by any player."

    Nicknamed "Orator Jim" for his mastery of the spoken word, O'Rourke utilized speech and personal example to lead his New York Giants to World Championships in 1888 and 1889, and even allowed John McGraw to coax him out of retirement for a single game at age fifty-three, smacking a single to help the Giants clinch the 1904 National League pennant. His appearance secured a position as one of just four Major Leaguers to play in four decades. Ultimately the presented contract would add just a single season to O'Rourke's Big Apple tenure, as he would depart for Washington in 1893, and retire at the close of that campaign.

    Exceedingly rare in any format, O'Rourke's autograph appears in its most desirable and unimpeachable format here, accepting "Thirty-five hundred 3500 dollars for the first two seasons and three thousand 3000 dollars for the last season" with a bold black fountain pen flourish. A brush of his hand lightly affects his signature, but it would be criminal to pick nits here. Giants team founder John B. Day signs on behalf of management with National League president Nicholas Young autographing the cover of the contract with gorgeous calligraphic penmanship.

    The contract (8.5x14") has undergone professional restoration a number of tears along the fold lines, but these actions have been expertly rendered and cause no distraction. Unquestionably one of the finest artifacts to emerge from the 19th century game, its a piece as worthy of Cooperstown as the man whose services it secured. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2012
    3rd-5th Thursday-Saturday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 16
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 884

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