The two contracts that resulted in the integration of baseball following World War II are going on the auction block.
The pact Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and his contract with the Montreal Royals from 1945 will be offered through Goldin Auctions on November 16, although it’s possible they could be sold privately before a planned auction at the Jackie Robinson Museum, according to company founder Ken Goldin.
The two contracts have been appraised for $36 million by rare document expert Seth Kaller who has appraised other historical items, including Abraham Lincoln signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and Benjamin Franklin signed copies of the U.S. Constitution.
Ten percent of the purchase price will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
The contracts were in a Brooklyn historian’s safe-deposit box for more than 60 years. Eventually, they were sold to a New York collector, then to Mykalai Kontilai, CEO of Collectors Café,who bought them in 2014. Now, they’ll be offered at public auction for the first time.
“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,” Goldin stated. “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.”
The two contracts, which will be sold together as a single lot, are Robinson’s original copies of the contracts he signed on October 23, 1945 with the Royals and on April 11, 1947 with the Dodgers. It’s believed these are the only copies in existence. Authentication letters have been provided by PSA/DNA, James Spence Authentication (JSA), Beckett Authentication Services and John Reznikoff of University Archives.
“There is no question that these documents will appeal to buyers far beyond our hobby, generating the kind of interest that few sports-related collectibles can muster,” said PSA President Joe Orlando.
During the past year, the contracts have been on public display at several museums and major league stadiums including the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, City Hall in Montreal, Times Square, Busch Stadium, Wrigley Field, and others.
“We encourage philanthropists, museum curators, MLB team owners, corporations and anyone else with the means who loves baseball or supports the civil rights movement or wants to help preserve Jackie’s legacy, to step forward and take ownership of these historic documents,” said Goldin. “We look forward to an electric night of bidding on November 16th, but if the right buyer comes forward before the auction and can ensure these documents will continue to be shared with the public, we’ll certainly consider a private sale.”
Collectors interested in bidding on the Robinson contracts must register in advance to be approved for bidding. Registration is available on the Goldin Auctions website or by calling 856-767-8550.