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Lot # 498 (of 1525)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1956 Roberto Clemente Signed Letter and Contract Archive

Starting Bid - $2,000.00, Sold For - $4,930.00

Presented is a simply amazing letter written by Roberto Clemente immediately following his rookie season, in January 1956, to Branch Rickey, then Vice-President of the Pittsburgh Pirates, with extraordinary content relating to his contract negotiations with the Pirates, and accompanied by his 1956 Pirates contract, which he returned unsigned with this letter. The one-page typed letter, sent from San Juan, Puerto Rico, reads as follows: "Dear Mr. Rickey Jr.: I am sorry I cannot accept the offered contract for the 1956 season, which you shall find enclosed, unsigned. I feel that with the year I had last season, I should be entitled to a substantial raise. It should be needless to point that I had a .255 batting average, one of the best fielding averages and was second in assists for outfielders in the National League. During the season I played with an injured finger and at times, while being sick. Although I should not say so myself, I had a good following that showed in the attendance at Forbes Field. I am more than satisfied playing for you, your organization and the Pittsburgh fans, to all of whom I am very grateful, yet think my salary for the coming season should be not less than $10,000.00. I have kept myself in good shape, as you could see while down here, and am sure I will be of great help to our Club this coming summer. With my best wishes and looking forward to receive a new contract with the requested raise, I am, Very truly yours, Roberto Clemente." ("9"). Clemente has beautifully signed in blue ballpoint. The Pirates' date-stamp of receipt touches parts of the first name of his signature and the "C" of Clemente, appearing to intentionally "stamp on" the uncooperative Clemente, but the ink stamp is very light and clean, and does not cover or disturb the integrity of the virtually perfect Roberto Clemente signature. The official Uniform Player's Contract, which is also included in this lot, calls for Clemente to earn $7,000 for the 1956 season. The contract has been beautifully signed by Branch Rickey Jr. ("10"), but, as noted by Clemente's letter, is unsigned by Clemente. The letter and contract are also accompanied by a file copy of Rickey's letter to Clemente, which he sent with the $7,000 contract, requesting the return of Clemente's signed contract and closing with "All of us here have great hopes that this coming year will see fine improvement in your playing. We are all pleased that you have been able to do as well as you have with the very little professional experience that you had had before last year. At any rate, all of us here will be rooting for you to have a fine year." The original registered postal receipt, addressed to Clemente in Puerto Rico, and postmarked "Jan 10, 1956," is stapled to the corner of the file copy letter. REA research of other Clemente documents known to exist allow us to report that Rickey responded very harshly, writing to Clemente that his 1955 season was not very impressive, but providing a replacement contract in the amount of $7,500 for the 1956 season, which Clemente did, in fact, sign. The Roberto Clemente letter is in Excellent to Mint condition with normal mailing folds and a filing staple hole in the upper left corner. The Branch Rickey file copy letter has the registered mailing receipt stapled to the upper left corner and is in Excellent to Mint condition. The 1956 contract is also in Excellent to Mint condition with a filing staple hole in the upper left. The significance of this 1956 Clemente letter and contract speak for themselves. Clemente is one of the "magic" names in the history of the sport, whose greatness, dignity, and impact transcend the world of collecting. These items represent several of the earliest, and most significant documents in existence relating to the career of the legendary Roberto Clemente, one of the greatest Major League stars to ever take the field. Total 3 items. LOAs from Mike Gutierrez/GAI and James Spence & Steve Grad/PSA DNA. Reserve $2,000. Estimate $4,000/$8,000. SOLD FOR $4,930.00

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