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1941 Leon Day Puerto Rican League Contract
Starting Bid - $300.00, Sold For - $1,896.00
Four-page fold-over contract, dated August 24, 1941, between Leon Day and the Aguadilla Base-Ball Club of the Puerto Rico Semi-Pro Baseball League. Signed in black fountain pen ("10") by "Leon Day" and by the president of the club. The contract has also been signed by two witnesses and the league president, adjacent to which appears the official league stamp. The one-year agreement, for the winter-league season of 1941/1942, calls for Day to receive a salary of $60 per week. Day, like many Negro League players from that era, earned extra money during the winter by playing for teams in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. The Puerto Rico Semi-Pro Baseball League was founded in 1938 and was very successful in acquiring the services of many of the top Negro League players at the time, including Josh Gibson and Satchel Paige. Day was twenty-five years old at the time of this contract and had already established himself as one of the premier pitchers in the Negro Leagues. Known for his blazing fastball, Day held the single-game strikeout record in the Negro National League, the Puerto Rican League, and the East-West All-Star Game. As a pitcher, he was often compared in talent to Satchel Paige. Monte Irvin, who was Day's teammate on the Newark Eagles, once commented, "Leon was as good as Satchel Paige, as good as any pitcher who ever lived. But he never made any noise. Leon was never the promoter Satchel was." In addition to his mound accomplishments, Day was also an outstanding hitter and fielder, and many consider him to be one of the best all-around players in Negro League history. Although segregation robbed Day of his chance to play in the Major Leagues, he did manage to play two years of organized ball in 1951 (Toronto) and 1952 (Scranton) before retiring. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1995. Baseball contracts of Hall of Fame players, especially those dating from their respective playing careers (let alone those of the greatest Negro League stars), are rare and the offered example is no exception. This is the first Day contract we have ever offered and only the fourth we have seen at public auction (the other three examples were also Puerto Rican League contracts, all dating from the late 1940s). The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays a slight vertical fold and two sets of overlapping notebook holes, as well as minor discoloration, along the top border (affecting each of the pages). In Very Good condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000+. SOLD FOR $1,896.00
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