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1949-1950 Willard Brown Signed “Santurce” Puerto Rican League Contract
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $7,800
Four-page fold-over contract, dated December July 18, 1949, between Willard Brown and the Santurce Base-Ball Club of the Professional Baseball League of Puerto Rico. The fully executed contract, bearing the league's stamp of approval, has been signed in blue ink by "Willard Brown" (grading "10"), club president Pedro Zorilla, and the league president (in black ink). Interestingly, the contract also includes the blue-ink fingerprint of Brown's right thumb. The one-year agreement, for the winter-league season of 1949-1950, calls for Brown to receive a salary of $200 per week plus the cost of round-trip transportation from the United States to Puerto Rico. Willard Brown enjoyed the reputation as one of the most feared sluggers in Negro League history. Perhaps the greatest testament to his hitting prowess is the fact that Josh Gibson himself bestowed Brown with the nickname “Home Run.” Brown starred with the Monarchs for fourteen seasons between the years 1935 and 1951 (he missed time due to military service, and one year was spent in the Mexican League), leading the club to six pennants. He was equally successful in the Puerto Rican League, where he was known as "Esse Hombre." Brown had a lifetime .350 average for Santurce during his ten seasons in the league (spanning the years 1941 and 1957), where he led the league in hitting and home runs on three separate occasions. In 1947 Brown followed in the footsteps of Jackie Robinson and briefly joined the St. Louis Browns. Although he only played in twenty-one games with the Browns, he became the first black player to hit a home run in the American League. He later returned to the Negro Leagues and then finished his career in the minors, playing with a number of clubs in the Texas League. Brown was one of seventeen Negro League players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 by special election, ten years after his death. As a result, his signature is particularly scarce today. Baseball contracts of Hall of Fame players, especially those dating from their respective playing careers (let alone those of the greatest Negro League stars), are rare and the offered example is no exception. This is the first Willard Brown contract we have ever offered. The contract (8.25 x 11 inches) displays two notebook holes along the top, as well as a few tiny edge tears and minor creases. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. Full LOA from James Spence/JSA and full LOA from PSA/DNA. SOLD FOR $7,800
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