Satchel Paige was one of the greatest Negro league pitchers of his time who eventually broke into the majors in 1948 with the Cleveland Indians. He made his MLB debut on July 9th that season at the age of 42. He was the first A.L. black pitcher and the seventh black player overall to enter the major leagues. After going 4-7 in 1949 and missing the entire 1950 season, Paige returned and signed a contract with the St. Louis Browns in 1951. This lot features a four-page unsigned uniform player’s contract dated Jan. 12, 1952, between Paige and the “American League Baseball Co. of St. Louis” for $25,000 heading into the ‘52 season. It measures 8.5” wide by 11” high and includes an authorized signature of the ballclub (certainly not Bill Veeck, though he is listed as the team's GM for 1952). Whether $25,000 was unacceptable to Paige or whether this is simply a file copy of the legendary hurler's contract, Paige did not sign this example.
Satchel Paige signed contracts are certainly elusive in the hobby; just one example has surfaced, a fully-executed agreement for his one-game stunt with the 1965 Oakland Athletics. That contract was sold at public auction for $48,000. While this example is clearly unsigned, its historical importance remains, a testament to Paige's staying power and popularity among baseball fans. Despite being 45 years old at the time, Paige was not just a showman: he eventually did sign a contract and finished 12-10 that season for the Browns with a 3.07 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 138 innings pitched - more innings than most 25-year-old relievers pitch today.