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1919 Bill James Boston Red Sox Contract - With Special Conduct Clause - Member of the 1919 "Black Sox"
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $1,680
Four-page fold-over contract, dated May 24, 1919, between pitcher William James and the Boston American League Baseball Club, signed in blue fountain pen by "Wm. H. James" (grading "10"), "H. H. Frazee ("10") as president of the Red Sox, "E. G. Barrow" ("10," with the slightest hint of brushing) as a witness, and American League president "B. B. Johnson" (black fountain pen, "10"). It must be noted that Frazee's signature on this contract was actually signed by Barrow and that fact is even noted here by the notation after Frazee's name that reads "For E. G. B." The one-year agreement calls for James to receive a salary of $3,000. Bill James started the 1919 season with the Detroit Tigers, but the Red Sox purchased his contract on May 24th, upon which they offered him this new agreement. James had a somewhat shady reputation when he joined the Red Sox in 1919, for what would be his final season in major league baseball. In 1917 it was rumored that James, who was with the Tigers, accepted money from Chick Gandil and Swede Risberg of the White Sox to "throw" a late-season series against Chicago. The Tigers lost all four games of the series, which allowed the White Sox to win the pennant, and ultimately the World Series that year. The Red Sox were obviously well aware of James' past and therefore felt the need to include a special "conduct" clause to the contract, which reads in full: "I hereby further agree to allow the Boston Club to hold back $250.00 Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars of my salary each month until the end of the season of 1919, and to forfeit this amount to the Boston Club should I violate any of the provisions of sections (3) three or (4) four, of this contract. The team manager to be the sole judge as to said violations." The additional blue fountain-pen signatures ("10") of both James and Barrow (who was the Red Sox manager) are scripted below in acknowledgment of the special provision. James was later released by the Red Sox in August of that year and, ironically, was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox, with whom he finished the season. James even appeared in the 1919 World Series, giving up three runs in his four-plus innings of work. In eight major league seasons, James compiled a record of 64-71 with an ERA of 3.21. He continued his professional career for another four years in the minors before retiring from baseball for good in 1923. The contract (8.5 x 14 inches) displays three horizontal folds and is in Excellent to Mint condition. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA.
Reserve $200. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,680
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