Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Jackie Robinson 1949 Dodgers Contract Sold for Big Bucks at REA

This sold at a huge price. Far more than I ever expected.

As you may know, REA recently concluded their Spring 2017 auction and it included a somewhat historically important document - a Jackie Robinson signed MLB contract with the Dodgers from 1949. It sold for the princely sum of $276,000.00 (auction link here).

This document had originally been consigned in 2000 by Rachel Robinson and sold for just $13,558 (along with several other documents). Seventeen years later it will cost you about half a new home in California to buy it.

That, my fine folks, is called rampant inflation.

The sale also provides evidence that maybe the $36 million price tag put on Jackie's 1945 Montreal Royals and 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers contract is not out of bounds. As you may know, last year an auction business called Collectors Café announced that they had the two aforementioned documents and were planning a nationwide tour of them. At the same they publicized that the contracts would be available for sale at (what I had considered at the time to be) some crazy price -- with 10% of the proceeds going to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Now I feel like a dope for thinking they were insane. Instead, this market seems insane.

As for the contract featured here it shows that Jackie made $21,000 as a Dodger in 1949, and includes fantastic signatures of both Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. Per the auction description:
The four-page fold-over contract, dated February 5, 1949, between Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn National League Baseball Club, Inc., is signed in black fountain pen by both "Jack R. Robinson" (grading "10") and "Branch Rickey" ("10"), general manager of the club. The one-year agreement calls for Robinson to receive a salary of $21,000 for the 1949 season, an amount that represents an increase of $7,000 over his previous year's salary. While we do not have accurate records for all the Dodgers player salaries in 1949, Robinson's salary appears to be among the highest on the team, as Pee Wee Reese was paid $17,000 the year before. By season's end, Robinson's salary would be seen by all, including the penurious Rickey, as a bargain. Robinson finally "emerged" in 1949 as he led the league in both batting average (.342) and stolen bases (37). He also hit 16 home runs, scored 122 runs, and totaled 124 RBI. His batting average, along with his number of stolen bases, runs, and RBI, all represented career-high marks as well. Robinson's performance not only led the Dodgers to the National League Championship, but earned Robinson his one and only MVP Award at season's end.

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