Auction News | Sports memorabilia

Jackie Robinson’s landmark first baseball contracts set to auction

7 September 2017 12:00

The historic contracts signed by Jackie Robinson in 1945, making him the first black player in Major League Baseball, are heading for auction for the first time.
The signed documents, which belonged to Robinson himself, will be offered at Goldin Auctions in New York on November 16.

Although the auction house hasn’t yet placed an estimate on the two contracts, which will sell as a single lot, they are expected to easily achieve a seven-figure sum.

The contracts between Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers, along with their minor league team the Montreal Royals, have been described as "the sports equivalent of the Emancipation Proclamation".

When Robinson signed with the Dodgers in October 1945, he became the first African American player to break the colour line in professional baseball since the 1880s.

The deal is regarded as a landmark moment in the history of both sports and the U.S Civil Rights movement.

For 50 years the contracts sat undisturbed in the safety deposit box of a Brooklyn historian, who is thought to have acquired them directly from Robinson.

With the Dodgers stating that they no longer have their copies of the contracts, the documents heading for auction are both culturally significant and completely unique.

"There are many documents on display in museums that represent seminal moments in history which forever changed America such as The Declaration of Independence, The Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation," said auction house owner Ken Goldin.

"But most historians believe that the integration of baseball with the signing of Jackie Robinson had as great an impact on America as any other moment in history. In fact, Martin Luther King called Robinson the founder of the Civil rights movement."

"Bringing the most important baseball document and the founding document of the Civil Rights movement to auction is an awesome responsibility and we are honored to help find them a permanent home for future generation to enjoy."

Ten percent of the proceeds from the sale will benefit the Jackie Robinson Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides education and leadership development programs for minority college students.

"We are delighted with our partnership with Goldin Auctions that promotes Jackie Robinson’s legacy in baseball and in the Civil Rights Movement," said Della Britton Baeza, President and CEO of the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

"We hope that the winning bidder will share these historic documents with the world. Of course, they will always have a home at the future Jackie Robinson Museum both live in New York City and online."

The current record price for a sports contract was set earlier in 2017, when the original document which sold Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees sold for $2.3 million.


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