Jackie Robinson's original professional baseball contracts with the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Montreal Royals, which were in a Brooklyn historian's safe-deposit box until a few years ago, will be offered for sale by Goldin Auctions at a live auction on Nov. 16 at the future site of the Jackie Robinson Museum. The announcement of the auction, and that 10 percent of the purchase price will be donated to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, was made by Ken Goldin, chairman of Goldin Auctions, on Sept. 6.
"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. 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,” Goldin said. "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 Oct. 23, 1945 with the Montreal Royals and on April 11, 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Since the Dodgers have said publicly that they no longer have copies, the historical significance of the documents is magnified as these are the only copies of the historic Civil Rights documents in existence.
The contracts have been authenticated by PSA/DNA, James Spence Authentication (JSA), Beckett Authentication Services and John Reznikoff of University Archives. They have been appraised for $36 million by rare document expert Seth Kaller who has appraised many comparable historical items, including Abraham Lincoln signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and Benjamin Franklin’s signed copies of the U.S. Constitution.
"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 Jackie Robinson Museum both live in New York City and online."
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," Goldin said. "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 at www.GoldinAuctions.comor by calling 856-767-8550.