Four-page fold-over contract, dated October 1, 1927, between Grover Alexander and the St. Louis National Baseball Club, signed in blue fountain pen by both "G. C. Alexander" (grading "10") and "S. Breadon" (grading "9"), owner and president of the Cardinals. Also signed on the front in black ink by "John A. Heydler" ("10") as National League President. The one-year agreement, for the 1928 season, calls for Alexander to receive a salary of $15,000, but a special stipulation added at the end of the contract allows for him to receive an additional bonus of $2,000 if he simply refrains from alcoholic beverages. The clause, in its entirety, reads:
The player herein agrees to abstain from the use of intoxicating liquor during the playing season covered by this contract and the club agrees that in the consideration of this special agreement on the part of the player it will pay to him at the end of the season an additional amount of two thousand ($2,000.00) dollars. It is understood that President Breadon shall have the exclusive right to determine whether or not this bonus shall be paid
We have no way of knowing whether Alexander received the bonus, but given his repeated propensity to bend the elbow at any given opportunity, we would guess that his bonus was voided on the first day of spring training. In addition to his alcoholism, Alexander also suffered from epilepsy, which makes his pitching accomplishments all the more remarkable. Between the years 1911 and 1927 Alexander won twenty or more games nine times, including three thirty-win seasons, and finished his career with 373 wins, which ties him with Christy Mathewson for fourth place on the all-time list. Alexander was at his best during the three-year span 1915-1917, when he became the first and only pitcher to lead the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts for three consecutive seasons. Despite all of these accomplishments, he is still best remembered today for his dramatic strikeout of Tony Lazzeri with two outs and the bases loaded in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series, which basically won the Series for the Cardinals. Alexander retired in 1931 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1938. Unfortunately, his bouts with alcoholism and epilepsy grew worse during his retirement days and he died practically penniless in 1950.
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 Alexander contract we have ever offered and we cannot recall having seen another example. The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds, a few tiny edge tears, and a small number of light creases. In Very Good to Excellent condition overall. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Opening Bid $5,000. Estimate $20,000+.
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