1924 New York Yankees "Spring Training" Contract Signed by Miller Huggins and Ed Barrow!
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $2,644
While any document signed by Miller Huggins is extremely desirable and valuable (he died in 1929 and is one of the rarest of all Yankee Hall of Famer signatures), this particular Huggins (and Barrow) signed document has a far greater significance: From 1901 through 1923, the New York Yankees were essentially spring-training nomads. During those twenty-three seasons, the Yankees changed their spring-training site sixteen different times and utilized the services of twelve different host towns. That all came to an end in 1924 after they sampled the hospitality of St. Petersburg, Florida. Apparently, the Yankees liked what they saw that spring and St. Petersburg remained the club's permanent spring-training home (with just a few exceptions) through 1961. Presented here is the official contract between the New York Yankees and the city of St. Petersburg, Florida, dated July 7, 1924, that guarantees the Yankees' return to St. Petersburg for spring training in 1925. The two-page contract, between the American League Baseball Club of New York and the Chamber of Commerce of the City of St. Petersburg, by A. F. Lang, chairman of the Baseball Committee, has been signed in black fountain pen by both "E. G. Barrow" and "M. J. Huggins" of the Yankees, in their respective capacities as secretary and manager, and by "Albert F. Lang" of St. Petersburg in his capacity as chairman of the Baseball Committee. A fourth party has signed the contract as a witness. All of the signatures have been flawlessly executed and grade "10." The one-year agreement calls for a number of provisions by both parties. The city of St. Petersburg agrees to pay the Yankees $12,500 and to provide satisfactory training facilities and hotel accommodations for the club during the spring-training season. The Yankees agree to train in St. Petersburg, and, most important, also agree to play eight baseball games in the city of St. Petersburg during the spring training season. It is further agreed that the city of St. Petersburg will not participate in the receipts from any exhibition games played by the Yankees outside of the city. Ever since the practice of spring training first began in the nineteenth century, Southern towns have aggressively courted Major League clubs because of the added revenue they generate for each respective host city. One can only imagine how lucrative a club like the Yankees were to a city's seasonal coffers at the time. What the Yankees had, and which no other team could match, was the drawing power of Babe Ruth. Spring training was the only time Southern fans could see the legendary "Sultan of Swat" in action and thousands flocked to the ball park to witness first-hand his prodigious power. As seen here in this contract, a lot of money was on the line for both parties. As a result, the Yankees normally had a special provision in Ruth's contract that he must appear in a certain number of spring-training games, for which he normally received a percentage of the gate receipts. This is the first spring-training contract between a Major League club and a city that we have ever seen. Its rarity aside, the fact that it relates to the very start of the Yankees' long association with the city of St. Petersburg and features an impeccable signature of Miller Huggins, makes it a particularly desirable Yankees team document of great historical note dating from the 1920s. Each page of the contract (8.5 x 13 inches) displays three horizontal folds and a paperclip impression at the top; otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000++. SOLD FOR $2,644