The historic document which led to the foundation of Major League Baseball is expected to fetch millions when it comes up for auction next month.
Dating from 1876, the 74-page manuscript entitled ‘Founding Documents and Original Constitution of Major League Baseball’ set out the principles upon which the game was built.
"This, the founding document of Major League Baseball, is a central piece of Americana, inaugurating an institution that would come to be a defining aspect of American culture," says Dan Imler, vice president of SCP Auctions.
The document was crafted by William Hulbert, owner of the Chicago White Stockings, during a landmark meeting of baseball luminaries at the Grand Central Hotel in New York on February 2, 1876.
Together they established ‘The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs’, which initially consisted of just eight teams: the Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Reds, Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, New York Mutuals, Philadelphia Athletics and the St. Louis Brown Stockings.
The document sets out the objectives of the new league, which included:
- to encourage, foster and elevate the game of base-ball
- enact and enforce proper rules for the exhibition and conduct of the game
- to make base-ball playing respectable and honorable
- to protect and promote the mutual interests of professional base-ball clubs and professional baseball players
- to establish and regulate the "Base-Ball Championship of the United States."
"Nearly 150 years ago William Hulbert saw the future of what baseball could be," said Imler. "He set a new standard for the game and created a professional baseball league that has not only lasted, but has blossomed into a global institution.
"The forum he created fostered legends from Cap Anson to Babe Ruth to Mike Trout and all the superstars of today. These men owe their identities to Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball owes its existence to Hulbert and this foundational set of documents."
Back in March 2016, SCP Auctions offered another historic baseball document -The Laws of Baseball, written in 1857 by Daniel Lucius ‘Doc’ Adams, President of the New York Knickerbockers Base Ball Club.
Regarded as one of the most important sporting documents ever sold, the manuscript set out the rules of the modern game, and sold for an incredible $3.26 million.
"We’ve sold some incredible baseball artifacts before – from Babe Ruth’s 1920 Yankees jersey for $4.4 million to Kirk Gibson’s 1988 World Series home run bat for $575,000 – but this artifact trumps them all," added Imler. "Without these documents, such objects would not exist."
Bidding in SCP Auctions’ Spring Premier Auction begins on May 24, and closes on June 10.