1966 Reggie Jackson Topps Baseball-Card Contract and Check
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $3,259
One-page contract, dated June 6, 1966, between Reggie Jackson and Topps Chewing Gum, Inc., signed in blue ink by "Reginald M. Jackson" (grading "10") and in black ink by Sy Berger ("10'), as a representative of Topps. (Sy Berger was the driving force behind Topps' baseball-card business and is often referred to as "The Father of the Bubble-Gum Card.") In the agreement Jackson grants Topps the exclusive right to "exhibit, print, reproduce, publish, distribute, and sell my [Jackson's] name, picture, signature and facsimile thereof, and a description and/or biographical sketch of me in any form, size, manner, material, color or language, including but not limited to the form of trading cards, to be sold either alone or in combination with chewing gum, candy and confection, or any of them." In return, Jackson is to receive $5.00, plus "One Hundred and Twenty Five Dollars ($125.00) for each Baseball Season of the term of this contract during which I [Jackson] am retained as an active, eligible member of a Major League Baseball Club for the first 31 consecutive days of the Championship Baseball Season without interruption, or if my picture is published and used." The contract is to be in force for five seasons.
As was standard practice for Topps at the time, it aggressively signed players as soon as they started their professional careers at the minor-league levels. Such was the case for Jackson here, who was in his first season of professional ball as a member of the Lewiston Broncs in the Class A Northwest League. The contract is accompanied by a Topps "Bonus" check, dated the same day as the contract, June 16, 1966, made out Jackson in the amount of $25.00. It has been endorsed on the reverse in blue ink ("10") by "Reginald M. Jackson." "Accepted as Bonus for signing Topps Baseball Contract" is printed on the check above Jackson's endorsement. Jackson's team affiliation is written in blue ink (not in Jackson's hand) below his signature. Interestingly, included here is also an additional check, issued to Jackson on June 10, 1966 (dating six days before his Topps contract) by the Fleer Corporation. The check is for the amount of $25.00 and has also been endorsed by Jackson in black ink ("10") on the reverse. Obviously, Jackson had earlier signed a contract with Fleer, despite the fact that his Topps contract grants exclusive rights to the company. In 1963 Fleer became embroiled in a legal battle with Topps over the rights to produce baseball cards of major league players. Topps effectively won the war and Fleer was forced to issue cards featuring former players, team decals, etc. Despite the legalities involved, it is interesting to note that Fleer was also still signing minor-league players with the hopes that it could one day issue baseball cards of major league players again. These are three of the earliest Reggie Jackson signed pieces relating to his professional baseball career, with probably only his first minor-league contract predating them. The contract (8.5 x 13.75 inches displays two horizontal folds, small tears along the fold lines and border areas, a tiny area of discoloration in the lower right, and staple holes in the upper left. In Very Good to Excellent condition. The Topps check (8.25 x 3 inches) displays normal bank cancellation stamps and a staple in the upper left (Ex), while the Fleer check (7.25 x 3.25 inches) displays normal bank cancellation stamps and perforations (Ex-Mt). The Topps contract and check have been matted and framed together with a color photo (8 x 10 inches; as a New York Yankee) of Jackson signed in blue Sharpie (grading "10) to total dimensions of 25 x 21 inches. Ideally, the piece has been framed with glass on each side, so that both the front and reverse of the Topps check can be viewed. Total: 4 items; 3 framed together (contract, check, signed photo), plus additional Fleer check. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000. SOLD FOR $3,259