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1878 David Eggler Buffalo Bisons Baseball Contract - Played in Inaugural Seasons of Both the National Association (1871) and National League (1876)
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $3,300
Handwritten baseball contract, dated March 14, 1878, between David Eggler and the Buffalo Base Ball Association, a minor-league member of the International Association. This is an extremely early professional baseball contract and we can only recall having seen a few others that predate it. The one-year agreement, which is written on two sides of a single lined sheet, calls for Eggler to receive a salary of $700 for the season, to be paid in monthly installments beginning on April 1, 1878, and ending on November 1, 1878. It has been signed in black fountain pen by "David Eggler" (grading "10"), "Howard H. Baker" ("10"), as president of the club, and two witnesses. Outfielder David Eggler was already a seasoned major league veteran at the time he signed this contract, Eggler began his professional career with New York Mutuals of the National Association in 1871 (the inaugural season of the National Association, baseball's first professional league). He later played for the Philadelphia Whites (1874) and Philadelphia Athletics (1875) of the National Association, and remained with the Athletics the following year when they became a charter member of the National League in 1876. In 1877 Eggler played side by side with Cap Anson and Al Spalding on the Chicago White Stockings. Buffalo's 1878 roster was stocked with veteran talent. In addition to Eggler, the club featured six additional players with major league experience in either the National Association or National League (or both): Bill Crowley, Dave Force, Chick Fulmer, Denny Mack, Trick McSorely, and future Hall of Famer Pud Galvin, who would soon blossom into one of the top pitchers of his era. Given that talent base, it's no surprise that the Buffalo Bisons made the jump to the major leagues the following season when they joined the National League. Buffalo remained in the National League through the 1885 season, before rejoining the International Association in 1886. Eggler played both in the minors and majors for the next eight seasons, mainly with Buffalo, from which team he retired in 1886. A top player during the early years of the National Association, Eggler batted over .300 in each of his first five seasons and finished his eleven-year major league career with a .274 lifetime average. He died in 1902 at the age of fifty-two. This contract was part of a remarkable historic archive of Buffalo Baseball related correspondence that was offered at Hunts in February 2005. It has not seen the light of day since and been consigned to this auction directly from the original purchaser at the 2005 auction! The contract (8.5 x 14 inches) displays three horizontal folds, with tears along the lines of each. Some of the tears have been repaired with clear tape on the reverse. Although none of the tears affect Eggler's signature, a piece of tape does slightly touch upon the first "D" in David, and the first "E" in Eggler. In Very Good condition overall. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $3,300
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