Among the more than 1,000 lots up for bid in Goldin Auctions' October 10 through November 17, 2012 sale is a signed document billed as "the single most significant document in the history of baseball," paperwork that shaped and dramatically changed the course of 20th Century baseball history.
So, what is the document that's creating such buzz?
Pete Rose's copy of the August 29, 1989 agreement that ended a six-month investigation by the Office of the Commissioner into allegations that Rose bet on baseball while the manager of the Cincinnati Reds and permanently banished the all-time hits leader from baseball.
"Peter Edward Rose engaged in conduct not in the best interests of baseball in violation of Major League Rule 21," reads the document's first page, "including but not limited to betting on Major League Baseball games in connection with which he had a duty to perform."
Page four of the document spells out Rose's lifetime banishment from baseball. "Peter Edward Rose is hereby declared permanently ineligible in accordance with Major League Rule 21 and placed on the Ineligible list."
Page five of the document is bears the full, legal signatures of Rose, Rose's attorney Rueven J. Katz, Baseball Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti and Deputy Commissioner Fay Vincent.
"The banishment of Pete Rose from baseball is one of the most significant events in baseball in the past 50 years, making this among the most important documents in baseball history," says auctioneer Ken Goldin in a news release, "not just because if it's significance but because it is the only known document signed by Rose, Giamatti and Vincent – the three key figures in the decision that has left baseball's Hit King and one of the most popular players in baseball history exiled from the game."
Auctioneer Goldin says the five-page document, which carries a minimum bid of $100,000, could fetch highest price for a baseball document since Sotheby's and SportsCards Plus sold the contract that sold Babe Ruth to Yankees sold for $996,000 in 2005, according to the auction house.
"I believe that this certainly has the potential to be a million dollar plus document," Goldin said in an interview with ESPN, "perhaps obtaining the status of the most valuable sports, not only document, but item of memorabilia ever sold."
The banishment agreement on the auction block is one of two copies of the document that Rose signed for Major League Baseball to settle the investigation into his gambling.
Hall of Fame sportswriter Murray Chass writes that Major League Baseball's copy of the agreement is presumed to be housed in New York offices, though where specifically no one can say.
The auction house's lot description says the document for sale is Rose's personal copy of the agreement, and the document for sale comes with letter of provenance from Rose, as well as full PSA/DNA letter of authenticity.
It is important to note, however, that the document up for sale, purported to be Rose's original, was not consigned by Rose.
"I don't know what Pete did with the original or when he made copies last year, if he actually owned the document," Goldin told ESPN's Mint Condition. "Pete Rose helped me obtain the document, but he was not the consignor on the document. I don't know if it's been in someones collection for years, or how that worked out. … It belonged to an individual collector, who wishes to remain anonymous, and was formerly the property of Pete Rose."
While we may never know who did consign the document, it's fun to speculate that it might have been Rose's Jewish attorney, Rueven J. Katz.
Reuven J. Katz is a well respected sports attorney and the founding partner of the law firm of Katz, Teller, Brant & Hild in Cincinnati.
In his autobiography, My Prison Without Bars, Rose describes Katz as "my friend and lawyer."
"Katz had been a father figure to me ever since my dad passed away. He handled all of my finances and business ventures and provided me with some much needed moral support. …Ever since losing my father, Reuven had been a trusted friend — my go-to-guy."
Katz was both Rose's attorney and agent — he served as the agent to the Big Red Machine's Johnny Bench and Tony Perez, according to the Sports Lawyer's Association – and formed the for-profit Pete Rose Enterprises, Inc. on February 13, 1972, according to BusinessProfiles.com.
Katz no doubt took care of Rose. The attorney also may have enabled Rose's gambling habits by failing to take Rose to task for the nature of his financial requests, according to Hustle: The Myth, Life, and Lies of Pete Rose.
"Katz was sort of a father figure to Rose. He watched his bank accounts, cosigned his checks, advised him on his investments, and told him how much he should spend each month. Rose often told people that Katz had him on an "allowance." …
When the scope of Rose's gambling became public, the reaction of many Cincinnatians was that Rose must have broken from Kat'z leash — that Katz either did not know what Rose was doing or had tried to control him but could not.
But if Katz was naive about Rose's gambling and his gambling debts, he remained so partly because of the questions he apparently chose not to ask."
Other than Pete Rose's autobiography and the books about Rose, there are few true Katz collectibles.
The December 1989 edition of Cincinnati Magazine includes a cover story titled, "The Selling of Pete Rose." The magazine profiles Katz and Rose's public relation's agent, hired by Katz. It contains a photo of Katz that might interest collectors. The magazine is available on Amazon.com. I could not find it in a search of eBay.
An eBay search for "Reuven Katz +Pete Rose" yielded nothing of consequence, at the time of this posting.
Nothing else came up, as of the time of this posting. Presumably, Katz's signature is on checks, player contracts and other legal documents, baseballs, etc. Patient collectors may have luck, given time.
In researching this posting, I mailed an autograph request to Katz, using his firm's Cincinnati mailing address. I received an autographed Signature Card and an unsigned business card back within a little more than a week..
Do you have any Reuven Katz memorabilia in your Jewish baseball collection? What collectibles exist? Share your thoughts with JewishSportsCollectibles.com readers by commenting below.
In the meantime, if you can't afford to bid on the "original" Pete Rose banishment document, but still interested in owning a copy of this important baseball history, you're in luck.
Rose sells notarized photo copies of the document for $500 on his web site, PeteRose.com. Each copy, encased in a snazzy leather binder, contains Rose's autograph and the inscription, "I'm sorry I bet on baseball, Pete Rose, Hit King, 4256." Pete will personalize the document at no extra charge, according to his web site, which contains a range of other memorabilia available for sale and a calendar of Pete's signing schedule at the Mandalay Bay casino's Mandalay Place shops — really! — in Las Vegas.