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Lot # 685 (of 1389)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1915 Joe Kelley Signed "Player-Transfer" Agreement - Also Signed by Ed Barrow!

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $7,200

This player-transfer agreement, dated August 25, 1915, features one of the most elusive of all Hall of Fame signatures: Joe Kelley, who was a key member of the fabled Baltimore Orioles baseball dynasty during the mid 1890s. The one-page document records the sale and transfer of Frank Gilhooley's contract from the Buffalo Bisons of the International League to the New York Yankees of the American League for the amount of $8,000. Kelley was working as a scout for the New York Yankees at the time and he has signed the document as the club's representative in the transaction. Kelley's signature, "Joseph Kelley," has been scripted in black fountain pen and grades "9." The agreement has also been signed in black fountain pen by Patsy Donovan ("10"), manager of Buffalo, and by Ed Barrow ("10"), president of the International League, as a witness.

Joe Kelley's signature is one of the most difficult Hall of Famers to obtain in any form and has always been highly sought after by advanced collectors. The primary reason for the extreme rarity of Kelley's signature today is timing. In addition to playing in an era in which signature collecting was not very popular, Kelley passed away in 1943 but wasn’t elected to the Hall of Fame until 1971. For nearly thirty years he was simply forgotten by autograph collectors. That lack of foresight by earlier collectors has resulted in Kelley's signature becoming a "holy grail" for anyone trying to assemble a substantial Hall of Fame autograph collection. The offered signature, in addition to being a desirable full-name example, is all the more significant for being executed on a baseball-related legal document. Barrow, of course, enjoyed a memorable Hall of Fame career himself. It was Barrow, as manager of the Red Sox in 1918, who converted Babe Ruth from a pitcher to an outfielder. Later, as general manager of the Yankees, he transformed the club from perennial losers into the most successful baseball dynasty in history, winning fourteen pennants and ten World Championships in his twenty-five years at the helm. The document (8.5 x 9.75 inches) has been trimmed along the base and displays one vertical and seven horizontal folds. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA.




SOLD FOR $7,200


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