Tigers legend Greenberg’s first contract up for auction

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Henry Greenberg's first contract with the Tigers is one of the items up for auction.

Tigers legend Hank Greenberg's first professional baseball contract and a commissioner's memorandum signed by 40 members of the 1984 World Series-champion Tigers are among the prized items included in a mammoth sports-memorabilia auction that ends Sunday.

Robert Edward Auctions' fall auction includes nearly 3,000 pieces, with items ranging in price from hundreds of thousands of dollars to hundreds of dollars.

A 1916 Babe Ruth Sporting News rookie baseball card is the most-luxurious item up for bid, up to $420,000 as of Friday night.

Several Tigers items are included among the lots, including the first contract of Greenberg, Detroit's Hall-of-Fame first baseman/outfielder.

Greenberg signed the contract with the Detroit Baseball Company as an 18-year-old, earning a bonus of $6,000. The contract also agreed to pay him $3,000 after his completion of classes at New York University.

Greenberg would go on to play 13 years for the Tigers, in a Hall-of-Fame interrupted by his service in World War II. He hit 331 homers and batted .313 with a 1.017 OPS and 1,274 RBIs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1956, nine years after his career ended. The contract has a starting bid of $10,000, and hadn't been bid on as of Friday night.

A couple other Tigers contracts are being auctioned off, including that of Hall-of-Fame pitcher Hal Newhouser, a Detroit native. It had a bid of $1,000 as of Friday night, double the $450 signing bonus Newhouser signed for as a 16-year-old.

Another intriguing Tigers item is a 1984 memo from commissioner Bowie Kuhn, with the signatures of 40 members of the team acknowledging they read the memo. Signatures include Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Lance Parrish, Darrell Evans, Chet Lemon and Dan Petry, among several others. It was up to $350 on Friday night.

The auction began Oct. 6 and is scheduled to close at noon Sunday.