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Lot # 734 (of 1512)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1919 Ross Youngs Signed New York Giants Contract with Cover Letter

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $33,000

Four-page fold-over contract, dated February 21, 1919, between Ross Youngs and the "National Exhibition Company operating the New York National League Base Ball Club," signed in black fountain pen by "Ross Youngs" (grading "10") and both "Charles A. Stoneham" and "John B. Foster" of the New York Giants in their respective capacities as president and secretary of the club. Also signed by a witness. (It should be noted that the signature of Charles Stoneham is secretarial and was penned in the hand of John Foster.) The contract calls for Youngs to receive a salary of $652.20 per month for the season. Ideally, the contract is accompanied by two one-page cover letters from the Giants, dated January 28, 1919, and February 21, 1919, respectively, which are typed on New York Giants letterhead. The first, which is signed by Charles Stoneham (secretarial, signed by Foster) and John Foster in black fountain pen (grading "10"), was one that Youngs was probably happy to receive, given that the Giants were offering him a raise. In full:

My Dear Ross Young: We are enclosing your contract for the season of 1919 and with it a good substantial raise in spite of the fact that we shall play fewer games in 1919 than we did in 1917. The schedule for this year will call for 140 games as against 154 in the past. All clubs will deduct for the shorter time. This extends to both leagues. However in view of the earnestness which you displayed in 1918 and the good work that you did for the Giants manager McGraw has increased your salary to $3500, on the theory that when a man does something good it is worth while, and in conformity with the rule of the New York Base Ball club to recognize merit. You are doubtless aware of the fact that we shall train in Florida this year. It will of course be better for you to go direct to Florida from Texas. We shall be glad to hear from you at your earliest convenience.

The second letter, which is quite brief, simply notes that his contract is enclosed and that they hope he will have a good season. The decision to offer Youngs a raise was probably an easy one for McGraw. Not only did Youngs bat .302 in his first full season with the club, but he was also one of McGraw's favorites. Years later, McGraw publicly professed his admiration for him as a player: "He was the greatest outfielder I ever saw. He could do everything that a baseball player should do and do it better than most players. As an outfielder, he had no superiors. And he was the easiest man I ever had to handle. In all his years with the Giants he never caused one moment's trouble for myself or the club. On top of that, a gamer player than Youngs never played ball." It is said that McGraw kept pictures of only two players in his office. One was Christy Mathewson. The other was Ross Youngs.

This contract has been consigned directly from the Ross Youngs family. In our Fall 2014 auction REA offered a number of significant Ross Youngs items, which were also consigned directly by the family, including Youngs' 1917 rookie contract. At that time, reference was made to one other known Ross Youngs contract that was in the possession of the Youngs family and that would also someday appear at auction. This is that contract, and it is the family's hope that it will also find a good home within the collecting community. As most collectors are aware, Youngs' signature is extremely elusive due to his untimely death in 1927 at the age of thirty. As such, any signature example of Youngs, let alone on a contract, is highly prized by Hall of Fame autograph collectors today.

Contracts of Hall of Fame players are rare and the offered example is no exception. To the best of our knowledge, this is one of only two signed Ross Youngs contracts known to exist. (The other was his aforementioned 1917 contract that appeared as Lot 675 in our Fall 2014 auction, where it realized $39,000.) The fact that this contract is accompanied by its original cover letter (not to mention its remarkable provenance) makes it especially desirable. It should be further noted that all Hall of Fame player contracts dating prior to 1920 are extremely rare. This is one of only a few such examples we have ever seen. The contract (8.5 x 14 inches) displays three horizontal folds and is in Excellent to Mint condition overall. The January 28th cover letter (8.25 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds, as well as a few other light creases, and is in Excellent condition overall. The February 21st letter (8.25 x 7 inches) displays a single horizontal fold and is in Excellent to Mint condition. Total: 3 items (contract and two letters). Consigned directly from the Ross Youngs Family. Full LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $33,000

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