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1944 Paul Waner New York Yankees Contract
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $3,819
Four-page fold-over contract, dated September 1, 1944, between Paul "Big Poison" Waner and the American League Baseball Club of New York, signed in black fountain pen by both "Paul Waner" (grading "10") and "E. G. Barrow" ("9/10"), general manager of the club. Will Harridge has also signed the contract ("8," slight smudging) in his capacity as president of the National League. The agreement calls for Waner to receive a salary of $2,000 for the balance of the 1944 season. Paul Waner was one of the greatest hitters of his era, enjoying a highly successful twenty-year career, almost all of which was spent in Pittsburgh. Because both he and his younger brother, Lloyd (they were nicknamed "Big Poison" and "Little Poison," respectively), were fixtures in the Pittsburgh outfield for over a decade, even astute baseball historians often forget that Paul Waner played for the Yankees, albeit briefly, at the end of his career. Waner was well past his prime during the early 1940s, but the dearth of available talent at the time made Waner an attractive option for teams looking to fill their war-depleted rosters. Waner began the 1944 season with Brooklyn and even though he managed a respectable .287 average in eighty-three games, his legs were no longer up to the rigors of everyday use. On September 1st the Dodgers released him and the Yankees quickly signed him as a free agent, a transaction memorialized here in this contract. Waner only appeared in nine games with the "Bronx Bombers" in 1944, batting a meager .143, with one hit in seven at bats. The following season, on May 3, after playing in just one game, the Yankees released Waner, thus ending one of the greatest careers in baseball history. Waner led the National League in batting on three separate occasions and finished his career with a .333 lifetime average, a mark that ranks twenty-sixth all time. A member of the elite 3,000 Hit Club, Waner was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1952. Baseball contracts of Hall of Fame players, especially those dating from their respective playing careers, are rare and the offered example is no exception. This is the first Paul Waner contract we have ever offered and we cannot recall having ever seen another. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds and is in Excellent to Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500+. SOLD FOR $3,819
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