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1952 Ray Dandridge Signed Cuban League Contract
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $11,850
Four-page fold-over contract, dated September 17, 1952, between Ray Dandridge and the Mariano club of the Cuban Professional Baseball League. Signed in blue ink by "Raymond Dandridge" (grading "10"), the president of the Mariano club, and the president of the league. The one-year agreement, for the winter-league season of 1952-1953, calls for Dandridge to receive a salary of $1,000 per month. Dandridge, like many Negro League players from that era, earned extra money during the winter by playing for teams in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The Cuban winter league, which began recruiting American players around 1900, was a popular destination for many of the top Negro League players over the years, including Dandridge, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston, and Satchel Paige. Dandridge was thirty-nine years old at the time of this contract, but still in demand for his services. By nearly all accounts, Dandridge was the greatest third baseman in Negro League history, and also an outstanding hitter. Because of economic considerations, Dandridge played in Latin America (mainly Mexico) for long stretches during the 1940s. When he returned in 1949 the New York Giants signed him to a contract but curiously never promoted him, even though he batted .363, .311, and .324 during his first three minor-league seasons. He eventually retired before getting his chance to play in the Major Leagues, a decision he regretted for the remainder of his life. Finally, in 1987, the sting of having been shunned by the Giants was eased by his election to the Hall of Fame. 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 only the second Dandridge contract we have ever offered and just the fourth example we can recall having seen at public auction (the other three were Puerto Rican winter league contracts). The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds, two sets of notebook holes along the left border, and a few tiny areas of minor discoloration. In Very Good condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000+. SOLD FOR $11,850
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