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1947 Leon Day Signed Puerto Rican League Contract
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $1,200
Four-page fold-over contract, dated July 8, 1947, between Leon Day and the Santurce Base-Ball Club of the Liga Profesional de Base-Ball de Puerto Ricao. Signed in black fountain pen ("8") by "Leon Day," the president of the club, and two witnesses. The one-year agreement, for the winter-league season of 1947-1948, calls for Day to receive a salary of $200 per week. Day, 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. Day was thirty-one years old at the time of this contract and had already established himself as one of the premier pitchers in the Negro Leagues. Known for his blazing fastball, Day held the single-game strikeout record in the Negro National League, the Puerto Rican League, and the East-West All-Star Game. As a pitcher, he was often compared in talent to Satchel Paige. Monte Irvin, who was Day's teammate on the Newark Eagles, once commented, "Leon was as good as Satchel Paige, as good as any pitcher who ever lived. But he never made any noise. Leon was never the promoter Satchel was." In addition to his mound accomplishments, Day was also an outstanding hitter and fielder, and many consider him to be one of the best all-around players in Negro League history. Although segregation robbed Day of his chance to play in the Major Leagues, he did manage to play two years of organized ball in 1951 (Toronto) and 1952 (Scranton) before retiring. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995. 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 just the second Day contract we have ever offered and we can recall having seen one other example at public auction. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds, a small stain along the right border, and two notebook holes along the top. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. Full LOA from PSA/DNA and LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,200
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