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1941 Willie Wells Signed Puerto Rican League Contract
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $2,700
Four-page fold-over contract, dated September 16, 1941, between Willie Wells and the Aguadilla Base-Ball Club of the Liga Semi-Profesional de Base-Ball de Puerto Ricao. Signed in black fountain pen ("8," slight bleeding) by "Willie Wells," the president of the club, and Quincy Troupe (a fellow Negro League player) as a witness. Also signed by the league president, with the league stamp located just to the right of his signature. The one-year agreement, for the winter-league season of 1941-1942, calls for Wells to receive a salary of $65 per week, plus all expenses. Wells, 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 Puerto Rico Semi-Pro Baseball League was founded in 1938 and was very successful in acquiring the services of many of the top Negro League players at the time, including Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. Willie Wells is generally considered to be one of the four greatest shortstops in Negro League history. An exceptional hitter as well as a defensive standout, Wells is credited with a career average of .334, and his 27 home runs (in only 88 games) in 1927 stands as the single-season Negro League home-run record. Wells also compiled a .392 average in exhibition games against white major leaguers. After retiring from baseball, Wells lived in New York City for many years before returning to Austin, Texas, to take care of his ailing mother. He passed away in 1989 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. 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 the only Willies Wells contract we have ever seen, let alone offered. The contract (8.25 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds, two notebook holes and light staining along the top border, minor foxing, and a diagonal crease in the lower right corner. In Very Good condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $2,700
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