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1914 Ed Walsh Signed Chicago White Sox Contract - Also Signed by Charles Comiskey and with Provenance from Veeck Family!
Starting Bid - $2,000, Sold For - $50,363
Four-page fold-over contract, dated April 14, 1914, between Ed Walsh and the American League Base Ball Club of Chicago, signed in black fountain pen by "Ed A. Walsh" (grading "9" due to some minor brushing), "Chas A. Comiskey" ("9") as club president, and "B. B. Johnson" ("9") as American League president. The one-year agreement calls for Walsh to receive a salary of $4,500, plus an additional payment of $1,500, for a total of $6,000. This is a highly significant contract on many levels. First is the fact that it represents one of the earliest Hall of Fame player contracts we have ever handled, predated only by the contracts of Jim O'Rourke (1892-1894; REA Lot 983, May 2011) and Max Carey (1912; REA Lot 742, May 2012). Second, it features the signature of White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, who died in 1931. Comiskey signatures are scarcer than most collectors realize as it has come to light in recent years that many correspondences and documents previously thought to be signed by Comiskey were instead ghost-signed by longtime team secretary Harry Grabiner. Third, it comes with the provenance of having been obtained directly from Mrs. Bill Veeck, who has provided an accompanying one-page signed letter of provenance detailing its history (her husband, Hall of Fame owner Bill Veeck, purchased the White Sox from Comiskey's family in 1958, and therefore acquired all of the club's old files and contracts). Finally, the contract is unusual for the time because it was guaranteed. Comiskey agreed to cross out clause 7 (which gave the club the right to terminate the agreement for any reason provided it gave ten days' written notice), therefore insuring that Walsh would receive his full salary for the year as stipulated. Walsh was past his prime in 1914 and it is interesting that he signed his contract on opening day of 1914, which meant that either he was contemplating retiring or the White Sox had doubts about signing him before they could evaluate him during spring training. Walsh, who had been one of the club's greatest workhorses in prior years, only appeared in eight games in 1914. He eventually retired in 1917 with 195 wins and the lowest career ERA (1.82) in the history of the game. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946. Contracts of Hall of Fame players are rare and the offered example is no exception. This is the first Walsh contract we have ever offered and we have only seen one other example (an unexecuted contract which was issued to, but not signed by, Walsh) at public auction. This is a most extraordinary contract on many counts. The contract (8.25 x 14 inches) displays three horizontal folds and is in Excellent to Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $2,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $50,363
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