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Major League Baseball's first constitution is up for auction and could sell for millions

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On Feb. 2, 1876, Chicago White Stockings president William Hulbert called a meeting with the owners of several National Association teams -- beset by financial troubles and a lack of meaningful central authority, the N.A. was floundering, and Hulbert wanted to create something better from its ashes. By the end of the day, the National League was born.

The NL's first constitution -- which, among other things, promised to "enact and enforce the proper rules and conduct of the game" and "make baseball playing respectable and honorable" -- was drawn up, ratified and signed by its eight charter members, each of whom left the meeting with a copy. And yet, all original copies of one of Major League Baseball's founding documents were thought lost to time -- until now.

As it turns out, the 1876 constitution had been passed down through generations in the family of a longtime NL executive. It's now been acquired by SCP Auctions, and, after a long authentication process involving MLB official historian John Thorn, is set to be sold through an online auction running from May 24-June 10.

How much will the document net at auction? No one knows for sure, but considering that the 1857 "Laws of Base Ball" sold for $3.26 million back in 2015, it's safe to say the answer is "a lot."

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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