Roger Bresnahan played his first big league game in 1897, just two months after his 18th birthday. He played for five teams including the NL Washington Senators, Chicago Orphans, Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Giants.
Early in his time John McGraw‘s Orioles as a pitcher, Bresnahan was displeased with the Baltimore backup receivers. McGraw then pressed the athletically-gifted Bresnahan to catcher, a position he’d hold the rest of his career. Listed at 5’9″ and 200 pounds, the versatile Bresnahan was fleet of foot, sometimes batting in the leadoff spot in the order.
Perhaps his biggest break came on July 17, 1902, the day he was released by Baltimore and signed by the New York Giants.
Bresnahan’s seven seasons in New York as Christy Mathewson‘s battery mate are what he’s remembered for today. From 1902 until 1908 Bresnahan was Matty’s primary catcher. Later that role was passed to Chief Meyers who was with the Giants from 1910-1914.
After a 17-year career as a player ended in 1915, Bresnahan kept close ties to the game until 1931. Among the roles he fulfilled was owner of the Toledo Mud Hens.
It was in this capacity that Bresnahan affixed his signature to this contract from July 11, 1919. Hall of Fame Yankee owner Jacob Ruppert has also signed this agreement as president of the New York club.
As I replied over on Facebook, the idea had been kicking around for a couple of decades. My guess is that the early ones were very clunky, and that the innovation here was making them more user friendly.