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1918 Dazzy Vance Signed New York Yankees Contract
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $3,000
Four-page fold-over contract, dated June 27, 1918, between Dazzy Vance and the American League Base Ball Club of New York, signed in black fountain pen by both "A. C. Vance" (grading "9") and Jacob Ruppert ("9/10), owner of the Yankees. Also signed in black fountain pen ("9") by Ban Johnson in his capacity as American League president. The one-year agreement, which begins on "June 18, 1918," calls for Vance to receive a yearly salary of $350 per month. This contract features what we believe to be the earliest known Dazzy Vance signature. Even though Vance was twenty-eight years old at the time, his major league appearances had been brief. He pitched a total of twenty-eight innings combined with the Pirates and Yankees in 1915, but was generally ineffective (he was 0-1 with the Pirates and 0-3 with the Yankees). The following spring he hurt his arm and bounced around the minors for nearly three more years before the Yankees called him up in the middle of the 1918 season for another audition. Unfortunately for Vance, he performed even worse than he did in 1915. Vance appeared in two games with the Yankees, allowing 5 runs in two-and-a-third innings, before the club once again released him. Vance continued to toil in the minors and ultimately his arm healed, but he still needed a stroke of luck to help him return to the majors. In 1921 Vance won 21 games with the New Orleans Pelicans, but by that time no major league club was willing to take a chance on a thirty-year-old pitcher with past arm problems. However, the Brooklyn Robins were interested in Pelicans catcher Hank DeBerry, but New Orleans wouldn't part with him unless Vance was included in the deal. The Dodgers finally acquiesced and acquired Vance and DeBerry prior to the 1922 season. With the return of his fastball and a measure of control, Vance surprised everyone by winning 18 games and leading the league in strikeouts with 132. For the next ten seasons he continued his success, winning twenty or more games three times, including league-leading totals of 28 and 22, respectively, in 1924 and 1925. He also led the league in strikeouts for seven consecutive seasons (1922-1928). He ended his career in 1935 with 197 wins and a 3.24 ERA, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. Baseball contracts of Hall of Fame players, especially those dating from their respective playing careers (let alone one dating prior to 1920), are rare and the offered example is no exception. In addition to being an extremely early Hall of Famer contract (all major league contracts dating from before 1920 are particularly rare), to the best of our knowledge this is the only Dazzy Vance major league player contract known to exist! The contract (8.25 x 14 inches) displays three horizontal folds and a few tiny areas of light discoloration. In Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $3,000
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