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1973 Mike Schmidt Puerto Rican League Contract
Starting Bid - $400.00, Sold For - $3,258.75
Three-page accordion-style contract, dated September 22, 1973, between Mike Schmidt and the Caguas Baseball Club of the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball League, signed in blue ink by "Michael Schmidt" (grading "10") and the president of the Caguas club, and in black felt-tip pen by the league president. The agreement calls for Schmidt to receive $900 per month, plus $450 per month for expenses, for the 1973-1974 winter season. Interestingly, the contract is double-sided, with the opposite side printed in Spanish (which would be used for Spanish-speaking players). Schmidt's one season of winter ball with Caguas was a turning point in his young career. Schmidt struggled mightily at the plate during his 1973 rookie season. Playing in 132 games, Schmidt hit 18 home runs and 52 RBI, but was only able to post a meager .196 average, which was the lowest average for any starting Major League player that season. He also struck out 136 times. However, that winter he was able to work on his mechanics and fix his swing. In a later interview with Sport magazine, Schmidt was quoted as saying that while playing in Puerto Rico he had "found a swing that made things happen." As he put it, "I was standing at the plate nice and relaxed, and that sucker went off my bat a mile." Whatever Schmidt discovered that winter (represented by this very contract), he brought with him to the Majors the following season. In 1974 he raised his average to .286 and led the league in home runs (36) and slugging percentage (.546), while also driving in 116 runs. Mike Schmidt is considered by many to be the greatest third baseman in baseball history. A member of baseball's elite 500 Home Run Club, Schmidt led the National League in home runs on eight separate occasions and was the recipient of three MVP Awards, including back-to-back honors in 1980 and 1981. Equally adept in the field, Schmidt received ten Gold Glove Awards over the course of his eighteen-year career, with that total second only to Brooks Robinson for third baseman. Schmidt was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995, his first year of eligibility, and in 1999 was named to Major League Baseball's All-Century Team. 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 Schmidt contract we have ever offered and we cannot recall having seen another at public auction. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two notebook holes at the top border and light foxing on the last page. In Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $400. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $3,258.75
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