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Item 8158 - Joe DiMaggio 1938 New York Yankees Signed Player Contract (Pre-Season Holdout) Catalog 567 (Nov 2019)

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(we are no longer accepting bids on this item)
Minimum Bid: $7,500.00
Sold Price: $28,255.20 (includes buyer's premium)


Unique lot related to Joe DiMaggio's holdout before the 1938 season, including his final signed contract: contract, signed "J. DiMaggio," four pages on two adjoining sheets, 8.5 x 11, [no date, but April 25, 1938]. American League uniform player’s contract in which Joe DiMaggio agrees to render "skilled service as a baseball player in connection with all games of the Club during the year 1938" for the New York Yankees, "at the rate of $25,000 salary to start when the player is in condition to play." Signed at the conclusion by DiMaggio (adding his address, "2150 Beach Street") and by Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert. Includes two unsigned contracts issued to DiMaggio, filled out for a $15,000 salary, one of which was later signed in blue ballpoint by Nolan Ryan, "Joe, I wouldn't have signed it either. Nolan Ryan, Baseball's 1st million dollar contract."

Includes a cover letter to DiMaggio for the two unsigned contracts signed by Yankees secretary Ed Barrow, January 20, 1938, in part: "We are enclosing herewith a set of contracts with the New York Club for the season of 1938. Kindly sign and return both copies to this office immediately. The first squad of Yankee players, consisting of the pitchers and catchers, will report to Manager McCarthy at the Suwannee Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida on Sunday, February 27th. The second squad, consisting of the infielders and outfielders, will report at St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 6th. Players must report ready to begin Spring training immediately. If all players would do a couple of weeks' 'road work' to get their wind and legs in shape before they report, they would find it much easier to get into playing condition." Includes the original mailing envelope, addressed to DiMaggio at the Mayflower Hotel in New York. In overall fine condition. Accompanied by two vintage original glossy silver gelatin press photos showing DiMaggio finally signing his $25,000 contract on April 25, 1938, with Ruppert beside him and Barrow behind. Both bear original press captions to the reverse, one from the Associated Press and one from the Daily Mirror.

DiMaggio had debuted for the Yankees in 1936 and made an immediate impact in the heart of the lineup and in center field—in his 1936 rookie season, he hit 29 home runs and batted .323. In 1937, he led the Majors in home runs (46) and runs scored (151), alongside a high .346 batting average. DiMaggio understandably felt that he deserved a hefty pay raise for the 1938 campaign, declined to sign his $15,000 offer, and held out for a $40,000 salary. While Ruppert's Yankees raised their offer to $25,000, spring training came and went without DiMaggio's presence, and the regular season began on April 18th. Still, DiMaggio refused to report for duty. As the press and fans began to turn against him—and after witnessing his beloved team lose two games to their rival Boston Red Sox—DiMaggio realized that he could accept the offer or not play at all. On April 25th, one week into the season, DiMaggio buckled and took the $25,000 deal.

In a piece called 'I Am Lucky to Be a Ballplayer,' published by Liberty Magazine on June 18, 1938, DiMaggio reflected on the holdout: 'I have signed my contract, and I can tell you there wasn't a happier man in the U.S.A. the day I went back to work. I count myself a very lucky man to be with a great club like the Yankees, working for an owner like Colonel Jacob Ruppert. What I say about the Colonel is not a lot of soft soap. He offered me $25,000. I believed I was worth as much as $40,000. At no time was there anything personal in our disagreement. If you offer $8,000 for a house and the seller insists it is worth $10,000, does that mean you are deadly enemies? I kept holding out because I thought I was right. But as the season approached, I began to weaken. Not because I had changed my mind about what I was entitled to, but because the game gets into your blood. When the Yankees dropped two out of three in Boston, I decided that my place was with the club and that money no longer was the first consideration. So I called up the Colonel, and in five minutes everything was straightened out.' Accompanied by a full letter of authenticity from PSA/DNA.

Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.


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