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1914-1915 Claud Berry Pittsburgh Rebels Federal League Contract
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,304
Exceedingly rare Federal League contract between catcher Claud Berry and the Exposition Park Association (Pittsburgh Rebels) dating from the League's inaugural season of 1914. The two-page contract (on a single sheet) is dated February 26, 1914, and has been signed by Berry twice in black fountain pen (grading "10"), once in agreement to the contract and again in acknowledgment of the receipt of $500 from the club as an advance against his salary. The contract has also been signed by the vice president of the Exposition Park Association (name illegible) and Federal League president James Gilmore (blue fountain pen, "8"). The two-year agreement, for the 1914 and 1915 seasons, calls for Berry to receive $2,000 per month. The Federal League was only in existence for the two-year period 1914 to 1915, thereby making this an extremely historically significant as well as exceedingly rare document. In fact, this is one of only two Federal League contracts we have ever seen and we cannot imagine that many more (if any) have survived. Interestingly, Berry had little major league experience prior to signing this contract. He played intermittently for the White Sox and Athletics between the years 1904 and 1907, appearing in a total of twenty-one games during that time. Beginning in 1908, however, he was a fixture behind the plate for San Francisco (1908-1912) and then Portland (1913) in the Pacific Coast League. Obviously, the formation of the Federal League opened up many new opportunities for top players and Berry was successfully recruited by Pittsburgh. Berry appeared in a total of 224 game for Pittsburgh in 1914 and 1915. After the league folded, he returned to the minors for two more seasons before officially retiring. The contract (8 x 14 inches) displays three horizontal folds and is in Excellent condition overall. Included with the contract is a letter addressed to Berry from the Pittsburgh club that is postmarked "February 12, 1916." Unfortunately, we don't know the nature of the correspondence it contained, but we do know that the Federal League had folded nearly two months earlier, on December 22, 1915. The envelope (9.5 x 4 inches) is in Good condition, with a number of edge tears, tape residue, and the stamp having been removed. Total: 2 items (contract and envelope). LOA from James Spence/JSA.Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,304
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