Lot # 9: Outstanding 1879 Ezra Sutton Player's Contract Signed by Sutton, Arthur Soden, and Twice by Harry Wright (HOF) - JSA

Category: Featured Items

Starting Bid: $3,000.00

Bids: 0 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
Lot / Auction Closed

This lot is closed. Bidding is not allowed.

Item was in Auction "Summer, 2023 Premier Auction",
which ran from 8/2/2023 12:00 PM to
8/19/2023 9:00 PM

Note: This item has been withdrawn.  


Outstanding, museum-quality player contract between utility man Ezra Sutton and the Boston Red Stockings, owned by Arthur Soden and managed by Harry Wright.  Easily the oldest player contract we have handled and likely one of the oldest to survive its era, the agreement is dated October 16, 1879, and has been signed by Sutton and Arthur Soden, as well as twice by Hall of Famer and baseball pioneer Harry Wright.  

The contract governs the 1880 baseball season, and calls for Sutton to receive $171.43 per month, less $30 for the cost of his uniform, and less fifty cents a day for boarding while the team was on the road.  The contract bears the embossed seal of the Boston Base Ball Association.

This contract does bear historical significance, since the signatories were all involved with the creation of baseball's "reserve clause," which was adopted on December 6, 1879, just weeks after this contract was signed.  The initial reserve clause enabled each team to "reserve" five players for each season, unless a player opted out of his contract and did not play in the league for a year.  The clause began making its appearance in player contracts in 1880, and essentially bound each player to a single team until that team determined otherwise.  Arthur Soden was the person who proposed the reserve clause to the National League in 1879, and Sutton was one of the first five team members bound to Boston by the clause.

The contract measures 9" x 17 1/2" and is housed in a handsome 12" x 20 1/2" shadowbox.  The contract is clearly well-worn, with significant edge wear and light tears, visible foxing and staining, along with some staining that appears to have been left by clear tape.  The signatures are bold and legible, the first Wright signature applied in pencil and remaining dark and clear, the second somewhat faded with a bit of staining at the "H."  Soden and Sutton's fountain pen signatures are clear and dark.  Also included in the display is a clean N172 Old Judge Cigarettes card of Ezra Sutton, mounted at the bottom left of the contract.  A very important early contract, signed by several baseball pioneers including Hall of Famer Harry Wright - twice.  LOA from James Spence Authentication.

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