Document was displayed at opening of The MCI National Sports Gallery in Washington, D.C.1938-39 Pittsburgh Crawfords Negro League Player's Contract for Johnny "Schoolboy" Taylor Signed by Oscar Charleston. An uneasy relationship between two of the greatest figures in Negro League history was the catalyst for the creation of this document, bringing twenty-two year old right-hander Schoolboy Taylor into the Crawfords fold. Taylor had gone head-to-head with one of these gentlemen, the legendary Satchel Paige, just months before this contract was executed, besting Ol' Satch and the elite line-up of the Trujillo All-Stars in a complete game no-hitter representing the Negro National League All Stars. That spectacular performance made Taylor the hottest young prospect in the segregated game, with future Hall of Famer Monte Irvin calling him, "A tall good-looking right-hander with the damndest curveball you ever did see."
So when Crawfords player/manager Oscar Charleston saw the opportunity to rid himself of Paige, who he viewed as an unreliable prima donna always departing for financial opportunity both foreign and domestic, the young Taylor seemed the perfect solution to fill those large shoes. The presented contract solidified that changing of the guard, assigning a hefty salary of $400/month to the up-and-coming ace.
Negro League contracts are, of course, exceptionally scarce, and those with such noteworthy historical intrigue are rarer still. Many collectors will consider the flawless black fountain pen signature of Charleston as witness to the signing as the main drawing card, one of the most challenging autographs in the hobby for those with a concentration in Hall of Fame ink. The only sale in the Heritage results database, for a Charleston double-signed check, was $35,850. Signing along with Charleston in equivalent strength are Crawfords team president Gus Greenlee and Taylor himself, who adds his Hartford, Connecticut home address.
The four-page "National Association of Negro Base Ball Leagues Uniform Players Contract" exhibits typical wear at the storage fold lines, with very light separation at the intersections of the folds that do not affect the writing or the structural integrity of the piece. It's unquestionably one of the finest paper relics to survive from this sad and wonderful chapter of our National Pastime, an opportunity for advanced collectors not to be taken lightly. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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2018 November 15-16 Fall Sports Card Catalog Auction