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Description1902 Christy Mathewson Signed Uniform Player's Contract. They were drunks, gamblers, brawlers. They were illiterate farmhands. Many had criminal records. At a time when just six percent of the American population could boast of a high school diploma, Major League Baseball was still dismissed as a profession for drifters and derelicts. Ty Cobb put it best: "When I began playing the game, baseball was about as gentlemanly as a kick in the crotch."
Christy Mathewson made his first appearance in a New York Giants uniform during the last July of the 19th century, serving as a contradiction to every preconceived notion about the professional ballplayer. "He talks like a Harvard graduate, looks like an actor, acts like a businessman and impresses you as an all-around gentleman," observed author Homer Croy. Matty was, in fact, a college graduate, a wholesome, blue-eyed alumnus of Bucknell University, where he studied forestry and served as class president. He was, in short, everything that baseball required to begin the slow repair of its dubious reputation. Add that to the emergence of the Giants as a National League contender, due in large part to Mathewson's mastery, and the grandstands of New York City's Polo Grounds began to fill.
Presented is the official contract signed by the great Christy Mathewson, securing the twenty-one year old right-hander's services for the 1902 Giants season. Evidence of the typical concerns of league management is apparent in the terms of the document, which demand that the player "absolutely refrain from late hours and from any excess or dissipation in eating, drinking or otherwise," and warns of expulsion for "offering, agreeing, conspiring or attempting to lose any game of ball" for crooked gamblers.
Though the club suffered through a dismal campaign to close the 1902 standings dead last, this season would prove to be the darkness before the dawn as the Giants would improve to second place in 1903 and earn the first of five National League pennants they would enjoy during Matty's tenure in 1904. The four-page legal size document is the standard boilerplate contract utilized by the National League and American Association, indicating a salary of $3,000 for the approaching season. Mathewson's signature indicating his acceptance of terms rates a splendid 9+/10. The contract itself exhibits original storage folds with some separation, but the document remains solid and complete, with Matty's scarce autograph well clear of any paper flaws. A monumental piece from one of the Dead Ball Era's most decorated and elusive icons. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
Guide Value or Estimate: $50,000 - up.
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2017 June 29 Premium Sportscard Catalog Auction - Dallas