The experts at PSA/DNA (www.PSADNA.com) are no strangers to authenticating important pieces of sports history. But sometimes an artifact comes in that stands above the rest. Recently, PSA/DNA had the incredible pleasure of authenticating two such items: Jackie Robinson’s color barrier-breaking Major League Baseball contract and his contract for the Dodgers’ Canadian affiliate.
Both items are set to hit the auction block as a single lot on November 16, 2017, as part of a special auction hosted by Goldin Auctions at the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City.
Signed by Robinson on April 11, 1947 and approved four days later on April 15, Robinson’s Major League debut, the Dodgers contract prompted the desegregation of Major League Baseball, and served as a driving force in the Civil Rights Movement.
Robinson would go on to produce Hall of Fame numbers during his 10-year career, enduring racial epithets and rough play from his opposition along the way. More than his impressive baseball career, Robinson served as a symbol for Civil Rights, and this document he signed, which catalyzed his barrier-breaking career, is one of incredible significance.
Due to the profound significance and rarity of the documents, experts anticipate unprecedented numbers when the auction closes.
“If there ever was an item that truly transcends sports, this is it,” said PSA/DNA President Joe Orlando. “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. Jackie Robinson was an outstanding baseball player, but what he did as a human being far outweighs his contributions on the field. Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, a sport that now reaches across the globe in search of talent.
“The historical importance of these documents cannot be overstated. When the dust settles on the bidding, I would expect a new price record to be established for any sports item, in any genre.”
Robinson’s landmark signing took place a year before President Truman’s desegregation of the military, and it would be years until Jim Crow laws were entirely overturned. Thus, the player selected to finally break baseball’s color line had to be more than a great athlete; he had to represent a symbol of equality and endure more than the wear and tear of a typical baseball season.
“This is the most significant document that our national pastime has produced,” said PSA/DNA Autograph Authenticator Kevin Keating. “Branch Rickey had decided long before its execution that he would integrate baseball, and he also knew that the person who would sign this contract would have to be much more than a great baseball player. In the end, he chose Jackie Robinson and American history was made.
“This simple piece of paper marries the signatures of these two men and consequently gave birth to our country’s Civil Rights Movement. Unlike anything else, it is singularly responsible for our nation’s cultural shift away from Jim Crow laws. It transcends its sport because of its permanent, positive impact on our country, and of course, because of the man who signed it and to whom the success of the contract depended, Jackie Robinson.”
Along with Robinson’s Dodgers contract, PSA/DNA also authenticated the contract Robinson signed for the Dodgers’ Canadian affiliate, the Montreal Royals. The Royals signed him over one year earlier, October 23, 1945, another important first in the long process of breaking baseball’s color line.
As part of the November 16 auction of these historic documents, Goldin Auctions will donate 10 percent of the sale price to the Jackie Robinson Foundation. For more information on the live auction, visit www.GoldinAuctions.com.
PSA is the world’s largest trading card, autograph and memorabilia authentication and grading service. Since 1991, PSA experts have examined and certified over 28 million collectibles with a combined value of over $1 billion.