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1917 Wilbert Robinson Signed Letter to Zack Wheat with Outstanding Baseball Content!
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $3,900
Outstanding one-page typed letter, dated December 26, 1917, signed by Hall of Fame catcher Wilbert Robinson. Robinson was manager of the Brooklyn Robins at the time and in his letter, addressed to Hall of Fame outfielder Zack Wheat, he counsels his star player with regard to both salary and training. In full:
Dear Buck [Wheat's nickname]: In talking various matters over with Mr. Ebbets a few days ago, he informed me that the club would exercise their options upon the services of all the players on our list and then he would write you asking what salary you expected for should like to have for season of 1918, which will be from April 16th to Sept. 30th, exactly 5 1/2 months: he wants to agree with the players upon a salary which will be fair to the player and to the club. I hope you will be fair in your answer to Mr. Ebbets. You know he was the first who said base ball must continue when others were talking of quitting; neither he nor his partners have hollered "calamity"; but for all that you and I know that base ball conditions were bad all over the country and not likely to be any better in 1918 unless we should get better weather conditions; the weather of 1917 could not be much worse. Mr. E. told me that they would try and meet near as possible the conditions of 1913, which was, he said, the last normal year they had had; the years 1914, 1915, 1916, being covered with high Federal League contracts and 1917 suffering by reason of the World War. I hope you will carefully consider all this and too the conditions that confront us in 1918; almost fifty thousand men have been taken by the government out of Brooklyn and more will be drafted in the next few months; so be fair when you write Mr. Ebbets. I am sure he will be fair with you, everything considered. I want you when you have finally signed your contract to come to me satisfied and work your head off; you know next year all clubs will get a piece of the World's Series; that is, all but the last club; besides, when the war is over and Cadore, Pfeffer and Smith come back to us we will be in a good position to improve our position and with better times get better money. Contract will be for 5 1/2 months; training about three weeks; this will give you more time at home, but you must do some preliminary training prior to March 19th. Sincerely yours Wilbert Robinson [signed].
Robinson's signature has been scripted in brown fountain pen and grades "9." Wheat had a history of holding out each season for more money, so team owner Charles Ebbets and Wilbert Robinson were well aware of the difficulties in getting Wheat to sign on the dotted line; hence this letter. We do not know what salary Wheat eventually agreed to, but he must have been satisfied, as he lead the National League in batting in 1918 with a .335 mark. Wilbert Robinson was a star player in his own right in the nineteenth century, where he was one of the key members of the legendary Baltimore Orioles in the 1890s. Following his playing career he enjoyed a long managerial career with Brooklyn (1914-1931), where he won two pennants. He was elected the Hall of Fame posthumously in 1945. The letter (8.5 x 11 inches) displays one horizontal and two vertical folds, as well as a few tiny, scattered specks of discoloration. In Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA.
Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $3,900
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