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    The Georgia Peach at the peak of his greatness!

    1914-15 Ty Cobb Signed Detroit Tigers Player's Contract. The Georgia Peach would add the eighth and ninth links to his unbroken chain of American League batting titles during the two seasons this contract represents, securing a record as safe as any in American sports. Though his good buddy Tris Speaker would break the streak in 1916, Cobb would reclaim the throne for the remainder of the Dead Ball Era, recording the last three of a career tally of a dozen between 1917 and 1919. Then all eyes would turn to Babe Ruth and a new style of play that favored brute strength over Cobb's wily mix of speed and agility.

    We've never in our history encountered a Ty Cobb contract, and this specimen recalling that immortal record of utter offensive domination is more than we could have ever dreamed of finding. We should also note that Cobb's outrageous ninety-six base thefts in 1915 was both a career-best and the standing record for nearly half a century before the fleet-footed Maury Wills pilfered 104 in 1962. If there was ever a document that epitomized the zeitgeist of the early twentieth century game, this is it.

    The presented "American League Player's Contract" marks a covenant between the first member of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Detroit Tigers team owner Frank Navin, assigning a salary of $15,000 per annum, a rather sizeable advancement beyond the prorated $12,000 that Cobb had earned in 1913. While the legendary hitter's skills alone were more than enough to justify a 25% advancement, we should remember that this contract matches the lifespan of the upstart Federal League, which peeled away some of the entrenched leagues' top stars with the lure of higher salaries. This raise may well have been a defensive move by Navin to ensure Cobb remained true to the Motor City.

    Like many team owners of the day, Navin had a well-earned reputation as a penny-pincher, and his salary negotiations were the stuff of legend. After batting .338 for the Tigers in 1903, Sam Crawford received a letter back home in Wahoo, Nebraska from Navin demanding the return of the uniform he'd taken with him. Navin once caught on to Bob "Fats" Fothergill's ruse to hide his offseason weight gain by wearing a heavy coat in Navin's office during contract talks, so the Tigers owner cranked up the furnace until the chubby slugger wilted and accepted a lowball offer. But even the casual baseball fan is aware that Ty Cobb was a masterful businessman, and the contentious battles between star and owner became an enduring theme of their long relationship.

    The offered contract is effectively four legal-sized (14x8.5") pages, beginning with the typed details of the agreement on the first and second pages, leading to the perfect black fountain pen ink signatures of Navin and Cobb on page three. The fourth page doubles the population of Hall of Fame autographs with that of American League president Ban Johnson. The document has entered its second century of existence in remarkably strong condition, with general handling wear and perhaps an inch of separation at the edges of the storage fold lines, all remaining well clear of the text. Full LOA from Beckett Authentication Services. Full LOA from PSA/DNA.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2021
    21st-22nd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 24
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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