Buck Leonard Contract
The only known contract of “the Black Lou Gehrig.” This was for his resolute consistency, all-around brilliance at the bat and in the field, and gentlemanly demeanor. In fact, years before Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to break the color line, Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith -- having seen Leonard play for the Homestead Grays in Griffith Stadium -- considered him the ideal man for the role, only to cravenly back down under pressure from the other owners. By Nov. 23, 1940 when Leonard signed this supremely rare contract to play for the Mayageuz-India team in the Puerto Rican Winter League, he was 33 and realized he’d never get the big-league call, though he would lead the Grays to 4 straight Negro league titles in the ‘40s. Playing on the island, where he was more appreciated than he was in his own country, was its own reward. It certainly wasn’t for the money, as he was paid a paltry $60 a week plus round-trip ticket and boarding, far less than Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson got to mingle with native stars like Perucho Cepeda during the winter months. Leonard, who as much as Gibson made the Grays the black answer to the Yankees, is one of the most coveted of all Negro league stalwarts for collectors of the black game. His valuable signature rests on the last page of the 4-page contract, as “Walter Buck Leonard” in clear black ink -- grading a wondrous 10/10! Contract itself is VG-EX w/overall light browning, minor edge damage and light soiling in spots. There are 2 binder holes on top of each page. No finer Buck Leonard signature is around, and other than a Grays contract (that does not exist) this is the most valuable signed Leonard document.