Simultaneously setting themselves apart from their competitors, the Baltimore Orioles signed 18-year-old fielding wizard Mark Belanger in the 1962 Amateur Free Agent Draft, and Topps signed the youngster to his first-ever bubble gum card contract. Presented is Belanger’s first-ever check from the cardboard collectibles giant! The voucher is dated “Jun 19 62” (the actual draft date) and made out for a whopping five dollars. On the reverse, Belanger’s blue ballpoint endorsement shows (“9” strength). More on our website.
The voucher smacks of both Topps and Orioles history, as Belanger has signed his full name (“Mark Henry Belanger”) and completes the list of three notable names. Just below Belanger’s signature is that of longtime Bluefield Orioles General Manager George Fanning (as the check was cashed for Belanger by his minor league suitors). On the obverse is the signature stamping of Topps executive Edward Shorin. The check has three vertical folds and normal cancellation stampings/hole punchings (none of which affect the signatures).
Also included is the original contract, a legal-size document with typewritten specifics. At the conclusion, it is signed by Belanger (blue ballpoint, “9” strength) and dated “July 16, 1962.” The legal details call for the party to be at least 21 years of age, which Belanger was not. Thus, on the reverse, a “PARENTS CONSENT” entry is signed by Belanger’s father, Edward L Belanger.
Tracking Belanger through his 1962 season with the Class D Bluefield Orioles, Topps had reason for high hopes, as the slick-fielding shortstop hit a robust .295 (a number to which he would never come close during his Major League career) and hit three home runs. Belanger would hit just 20 over his Major League tenure.