The Iron Horse becomes a permanent member of the New York Yankees!1924 Lou Gehrig Signed New York Yankees Rookie Contract. "Although Hartford watches Gehrig go with regret," reported the Hartford Courant on August 30, 1924, "Local fans on the whole are delighted to see him make his way to the big show and will pull for him to develop into a genuine big leaguer." For the better part of two seasons the stocky first baseman had seen his fanbase swell at the Hartford Senators home park of Clarkin Field, where his prodigious home run clouts had earned him the nickname, "the Eastern Babe," after the Eastern League in which Hartford competed. In 504 plate appearances in 1924 prior to that telephone call from the Bronx, Gehrig had launched thirty-seven round-trippers while batting a sizzling .369 and slugging nearly one hundred points better than the next closest Eastern Leaguer. With the presented document, corresponding to the August 30th fond farewell in the local Hartford press, the mighty Iron Horse became a Major Leaguer for good.
While Gehrig did enjoy a brief, late-season debut with the 1923 World Championship team, this contract that marked the end of his minor league days could be argued to be his most "official" rookie contract, assigning a rather sizeable $800 monthly salary that would carry the twenty-one year old phenom from August 30th through the end of the 1924 Yankee season. As the pinstripers tried in vain to wrest the pennant from Walter Johnson's Senators, Gehrig was utilized primarily as a pinch hitter, batting an impressive .500 in thirteen plate appearances. In two games at first base, and a third in the outfield, Gehrig was flawless in eleven chances. Less than a year later, the primary sack would belong to him alone, the beginning of 2,130 games of unwavering dedication.
The standard four-page "American League of Professional Baseball Clubs Uniform Player's Contract" stands among the most significant ever to emerge from the archives of the New York Yankees, a collectible that stands shoulder to shoulder with the million-dollar document that brought Babe Ruth into pinstripes. Here New York's most beloved native son signs on page two in the rare and desirable "Henry Lou Gehrig" autograph format, joined in 9/10 black fountain pen ink by fellow Hall of Famers Jacob Ruppert and Ed Barrow. Signatures from a witness and the notary public round out the cast. Imprinted seals of the team and the notary appear here as well. A fourth Hall of Fame signature appears on the contract cover, that of American League founder and president Ban Johnson.
An inch of fold separation accounts for entirety of condition caveats, as the contract offers nothing other than general handling wear to suggest nine decades of storage. Like the man whose storied career it launches, this contract is a study in quiet durability. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.
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