Lou Gehrig collected a $25,000 salary from the New York Yankees in 1931 (roughly $375,000 today). Now, the contract Gehrig signed with the Bronx Bombers just prior to the ’31 season is on the auction block, where it is expected to fetch somewhere in the neighborhood of the latter figure.
The pact, inked by Gehrig and owner Jacob Ruppert, is among the featured items in a sale of one collector’s remarkable inventory of important Yankees memorabilia on the block at Heritage Auctions. The four-page document includes Gehrig’s name and his handwritten address (“9 Meadow Lane”)—and also an addendum. The Yankees would offer Gehrig a post-season bonus check for $1,000 “at the end of the 1931 season provided Manager McCarthy approves of such additional payment.”
It wasn’t exactly a generous offer. Gehrig received a contract from Ruppert in January. After hitting .379 and driving in 174 runs in 1930, he held out for about a month in hopes of securing a $5,000 pay hike. The Yankees refused and with spring training just a couple of weeks away, the big first baseman caved in. There would be no raise, other than the potential $1,000 incentive come October.
While $25,000 was still more than most fans were making, but it’s safe to say the Yankees got their money’s worth out of the star first baseman.
American League president Ernest Barnard’s name appears on the contract cover, with his handwritten filing notations.
The signatures have been authenticated by both PSA/DNA and JSA and each have provided full letters of authentication.
With the buyer’s premium, the current high bid stood at $216,000 as of Thursday afternoon.
The auction continues through Saturday, December 10.