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    The Santurce Cangrejeros debut during the Baseball Centennial season with a Negro League legend!

    1939-40 Josh Gibson Signed Puerto Rican Winter League Contract. It's arguably the most important Puerto Rican Winter League contract that exists, dating to the inaugural season of the legendary Santurce Crabbers and securing the services of the Negro Leagues' greatest slugger. Remarkably, this is the second Gibson contract from the Santurce archives that Heritage has had the honor of presenting, the first (from the 1941 season) commanding $95,600 in our April 2009 Signature auction. The team was founded by an executive in Shell Oil's Puerto Rican branch named Pedrin Zorilla, who sought out the ultimate "ringer" in Gibson in an attempt to quickly establish relevance within the competitive league.

    The move proved to be the start of an "arms race" of sorts, with Negro League greats coaxed to the Caribbean with the promise of sunny skies and hefty salaries. We note that the greatest pitcher in Negro League history Satchel Paige was signed by the Guayama club in 1939 as well, and that contract likewise appears within this Platinum Night event. A meeting between the two clubs in 1939 remains the worst loss in Santurce history, a twenty-three to nothing (23-0) rout that saw the Crabbers excoriated by the local press.

    But the storied slugging skills of "The Black Babe Ruth" kept the turnstiles spinning at Santurce during that unsteady first season, and the team would ultimately distinguish itself as the New York Yankees of the island nation, building upon its roster of legends in future years with the likes of Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays. But while these fellow Hall of Famers are quite readily available to autograph collectors, it is estimated that no more than a dozen genuine Gibson examples exist today.

    That distinct rarity appears on the third page of the provided "Contrato de Jugador," a black fountain pen application that presents at 8/10 boldness along with the signatures of team owner Zorilla and witnesses R.L. Torres and Dick Seay, the latter a member of the "Milion Dollar Infield" of the Newark Eagles with Ray Dandridge and Willie Wells. The league president signs the cover of the contract, which is date-stamped "Sep 14, 1939."

    Original storage folds and general handling wear are evident, but the overall condition is quite strong without any serious distractions. The contract is attractively framed to dimensions of 17.5x33.5" between two panes of glass to allow viewing of front and back, along with a double-sided modern photographic print of Gibson in his prime. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.






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    Auction Dates
    February, 2015
    21st-22nd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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