Four-page fold-over contract, dated January 6, 1948, between Joe DiMaggio and the American League Base Ball Club of New York, signed in black fountain pen by "Joseph DiMaggio" (grading "8") and in blue fountain pen by "George M. Weiss ("9"), vice president of the team. The one-year agreement, for the 1948 season, calls for DiMaggio to receive a salary of $65,000; however, a handwritten clause provides for the possibility of an additional $10,000. In full: "In the event the New York club draws an official paid attendance of 1,600,000 for the 1948 American League Championship season player is to receive an additional $10,000 making a total of $75,000." DiMaggio easily collected that extra $10,000, as the Yankees drew a then franchise record 2,373,901 fans in 1948. (Amazingly, that attendance figure stood until 1979.) Given that the Yankees' paid attendance numbers for each of the two preceding seasons was over two million, the threshold listed here in this agreement seems low. DiMaggio was known to be a tough negotiator at contract time and often held out of spring training unless his demands were met. 1948 was probably no different. Perhaps the Yankees added this modest attendance clause as a way of giving him more money without having to directly acquiesce to his demand for a higher yearly salary.
The Yankees certainly did not get short changed in the deal, as DiMaggio more than earned his high-priced salary. The "Yankee Clipper" enjoyed one of the finest seasons of his career in 1948, finishing the year with league-leading totals in both home runs (39) and RBI (155), while also batting .320. (His home-run and RBI totals that season each represented the second-best marks of his career.) Although those gaudy numbers were not enough to help lead the Yankees past the Cleveland Indians for the pennant, they did help DiMaggio place second in the MVP balloting at season's end. This is one of a small number of 1940s Joe DiMaggio Yankees contracts discovered and brought to auction in 2009, prior to which, few examples had ever been seen. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches; folded) displays two horizontal folds and remains in Excellent to Mint condition. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence/JSA. Pre certified by Steve Grad and Brian Sobrero/Beckett Authentication. Opening Bid $5,000. Estimate $20,000+.
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