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1917 Ross Youngs Signed New York Giants Contract with Cover Letter - Rookie Contract!
Starting Bid - $2,500, Sold For - $39,000
Four-page fold-over contract, dated January 15, 1917, between Ross Youngs and the "National Exhibition Company operating the New York National League Base Ball Club," signed in black fountain pen by "Ross Young" (grading "8") and both "H. N. Hempstead" ("9") and "John B. Foster" ("9") of the New York Giants in their respective capacities as president and secretary of the club. Also signed by three witnesses. The contract calls for Youngs to receive a total salary of $1,200 for the season. Ideally, the contract is accompanied by its cover letter from the Giants, dated January 22, 1917, and composed on New York Giants letterhead, which is signed in black fountain pen by John Foster ("9"). In full:
My Dear Sir: Enclosed please find signed duplicate of your contract. I also beg to acknowledge the receipt of your tax certificate. In due time you will be advised when to report to Marlin for spring training. I am quite sure manager McGraw will look forward to your coming with some interest as he has heard good reports about you from Texas.
The good reports McGraw heard came from his longtime trusted scout Dick Kinsella, who discovered Youngs the previous summer playing for Sherman in the Western League. While we are sure that Kinsella had a good eye for talent, Youngs was probably hard to miss that season, as he batted .362 and led the league in both hits and runs. Despite his impressive credentials, McGraw felt Youngs needed a little more seasoning before joining the Giants in 1917 and sent him down to play with Rochester in the International League. Once again, Youngs stood out, batting .356 in 140 games. Desiring to see how Youngs would fare against Major League pitching, McGraw called him up to the Giants at the end of the 1917 season, where he continued his hot hitting by batting .346 in seven games. Youngs never returned to the minors again. In 1918 he cracked the Giants starting outfield and batted over .300 in each of his first seven seasons, including a career-high .356 in 1924. He finished his ten-year career with a .322 lifetime average and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1972.
Contracts of Hall of Fame players are rare and the offered example is no exception. To the best of our knowledge, this is one of only two signed Ross Youngs contracts known to exist. (The other was also saved by the Youngs family and will someday appear at auction.) The fact that it is not only his rookie contract, but is accompanied by its original cover letter (not to mention its remarkable provenance, as detailed in the introduction), makes it especially desirable. It is also almost certainly the earliest Ross Youngs signature example extant. It should be further noted that Hall of Fame player contracts dating prior to 1920 are exceedingly rare. This is one of only a few such examples we have ever seen or offered. The contract (8.5 x 14 inches), which is lightly toned, displays one vertical and three horizontal folds. In Excellent to Mint condition. The cover letter (8.25 x 7.5 inches), which is also slightly toned, displays a horizontal fold and is trimmed along the base; otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition. Total: 2 items (contract and cover letter). Consigned directly from the Ross Youngs Family. Full LOA from James Spence/JSA.
SOLD FOR $39,000
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