MLB's original 1876 constitution expected to sell for millions

SCP Auctions is selling baseball’s original constitution. (SCP Auctions)
SCP Auctions is selling baseball’s original constitution. (SCP Auctions)

You can’t put a price on understanding the unwritten rules of baseball. The written ones, however, will cost you a pretty penny. Major League Baseball’s original constitution from 1876 will be auctioned off in May, and it’s expected to go for millions, according to USA Today.

The constitution comes from the National League of Professional Base-Ball Clubs, which eventually became Major League Baseball. The constitution was agreed upon at the initial meeting between the eight teams that would make up the league. Each team left that meeting with a copy of the agreement, but this is considered to be the original.

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The document was acquired by SCP Auctions, a company that sells sports memorabilia. Bidding will open May 24 and will extend through June 10.

Given that this is the first time the original document has been made available, it should draw a hefty price. Similar documents have gone for over $3 million, according to USA Today.

Last year, SCP sold a set of 1857 documents representing the original rules of baseball for $3.26 million on auction. James Naismith’s original “Rules of Basket Ball” sold for $4.34 million in 2010.

There are two majors questions surrounding the document: How did it stay out of the public’s eye until now, and how do we know it’s real?

The original constitution was reportedly passed down through the family of a longtime NL executive, according to USA Today.

It took months to confirm the validity of the document. Experts had to verify the age and ink on the paper, as well as perform handwriting analysis. MLB historian John Thorn was also brought in to offer up his expertise on whether the constitution was the real deal.

Given baseball’s status as the national pastime, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the game’s original constitution exceed its expected value. You not only get to own a significant piece of baseball’s history, but you also get definitive proof that Bartolo Colon hasn’t actually been a part of the game since its inception.


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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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