Four-page fold-over contract, dated December 20, 1946, between Ralph Kiner and the Pittsburgh Athletic Company, Inc., signed in blue fountain pen by both "Ralph Kiner" (grading "10") and "H. Roy Hamey" ("9"), general manager of the club. Also signed in black fountain pen (“10”) by National League president Ford Frick. The one-year agreement for the 1947 season calls for Kiner to receive an annual salary of $10,000. 1946 was Kiner's second season with Pittsburgh and he was determined to improve on his rookie totals of 23 home runs and 81 RBI, as well as his .247 average and league-leading 109 strikeouts. Luckily, he had a resident hitting coach for the 1947 season in teammate Hank Greenberg. As Kiner recalls: "In 1946 I was afraid that when the pitcher got two strikes on me, the next pitch would come at me. I'd bite at the pitch and strikeout. With Hank's coaching, I learned to swing only when the ball was over the plate." Under Greenberg's tutelage Kiner quickly blossomed into the game's premier home-run hitter. Kiner led or tied the National League in home runs in each of his first seven seasons (the only player to ever accomplish that feat), including totals of 51 and 54 home runs, respectively, in 1947 and 1949. In addition to his 51 home runs in 1947, Kiner also totaled 127 RBI and finished the year with a .313 average. Although he only played ten seasons, Kiner retired with 369 home runs and 1,015 RBI. He also batted over .300 on three separate occasions and finished his career with a respectable .279 lifetime average. Today, Kiner's home-run ratio of 14.11 ranks fourth all time among retired players. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975. Baseball contracts of Hall of Fame players, especially those dating from their respective playing careers are especially desirable. This is only the second Kiner contract we have ever offered, but decades ago we recall a number of Kiner contracts being traded to collectors by then Pirates General Manager Joe Brown (who was also a collector). The contract (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal folds and staple holes along each top corner. In Excellent to Mint condition. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA. Pre certified by Steve Grad and Brian Sobrero/Beckett Authentication. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).
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