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Lot # 752 (of 1389)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1917 Phil Todt St. Louis Cardinals Contract Signed by Branch Rickey

Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $480

Four-page fold-over contract, dated June 28, 1917, between Philip Todt and the St. Louis National Baseball Club, signed in black fountain pen by "Philip Todd" (grading "9") and "Branch Rickey" ("9," slight brushing) as president of the club. The one-year agreement, for the 1918 season, calls for Todt to receive a salary of $125 per month. This is an extremely interesting contract: because Todt was a minor at the time, just one-month shy of his sixteenth birthday, it was invalid. As such, it does not include the signatures of any witness and has not been signed by the league president. According to Todt's biography on the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) website, Rickey first discovered him in the summer of 1917, when Todt was a star pitcher of the Arcadias, a member of the local St. Louis Municipal League. Todt's father, however, would not cosign the offered contract, insisting that his son finish high school first. Rickey was persistent though, and approximately two years later, in 1919, once again signed Todt, who was then still only seventeen years old and still a minor. Rickey, knowing the legality of the second contract was at issue as well, chose to "bury" Todt (who was now playing first base) on the roster of Sherman, a Class D club in the Western Association, hoping no one would notice. Two years later, in 1921, when the St. Louis Browns attempted to sign Todt to a contract, Rickey protested. In what was basically Kenesaw Landis' first official act as commissioner, Landis ruled against Rickey and the Cardinals and awarded Todt to the Browns.Three years later, after Todt had joined the Boston Red Sox organization, he almost became part of what would have been one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history when the Yankees offered Boston another young first-base prospect, named Lou Gehrig, straight up for Todt. Luckily for the Yankees, Red Sox owner Bob Quinn turned down the deal, in what is an important, but often overlooked footnote, to Gehrig's illustrious career. Todt enjoyed a fine eight-year major league career with the Red Sox (1924-1931), finishing with a lifetime .258 average, 57 home runs, and 454 RBI. Afterwards, he continued playing professionally in the minors, where he also managed for a few seasons as well. The contract (8.5 x 14 inches) displays one vertical and five horizontal folds. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall.


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