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1884 Bellaire Globes Base Ball Club Imperial Display Photo - Integrated Team with Sol White - Extraordinary Newly Discovered Photograph
Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $9,400.00
Offered here is the earliest known baseball photo of Negro League pioneer Sol White: a team photo of the integrated Bellaire Globes taken in 1884. The formal studio photograph pictures all nine members of the club, along with the team's manager, posing together. Each of the players is identified in black fountain pen along the base of the mount. The notation, "Bellaire Globes 1884," is written in black fountain pen along the top of the mount, and the year, "1884," is written along the base of the photo itself. White was just sixteen years old at the time of this photo and the Bellaire Globes, a local amateur team from his hometown of Bellaire, Ohio, were the first organized club he ever played with. White was the only black player on the club during this brief period of integration, but his skills on the diamond were obviously sufficient to at least temporarily shield him from the standard backlash of bigotry and prejudice expressed by the public at the time. This extraordinary piece originates from the personal collection of Bob Westlake, who was the catcher on the Bellaire Globes and is pictured in the photo, as is his twin brother, George. It has been consigned to this auction directly from the Westlake family, who also consigned the 1887 Wheeling Base Ball Club cabinet card photo featuring Sol White that is presented in the preceding lot. After consigning the other photo, and learning of its great historical significance, he contacted his sister and asked her to go through her collection of family albums, just to make sure nothing else got overlooked. To her delight, and our shock, she discovered this rare treasure among the miscellaneous family photos in her home that had also been sitting, untouched, for decades. Sol White is one of the most influential figures in the history of Negro League baseball and the author of the 1907 book Sol White's Official Base Ball Guide, which is the earliest and most important manuscript chronicling the early years of black baseball. Not wishing to repeat ourselves, we refer readers to the previous lot description for more information regarding both Sol White and Bob Westlake. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only original surviving example of this team photograph. It is in a remarkable state of preservation. The photo (7.5 x 5.75 inches) displays exceptional clarity and contrast, and is in Excellent to Mint condition overall, with the date "1884" printed in the foreground. The cardboard mount (9 x 7 inches) has various imperfections including team and player identifications, a chip in the bottom right corner, as well as a few minor chips and tears. The mount, in turn, has been affixed to a large piece of paper (from the Westlake family scrapbook), the other side of which displays a cut newspaper article relating to Cy Young's eighty-first birthday celebration (Bob Westlake was a good friend of Cy Young). The Westlake family told us that Bob Westlake often lent his photographs to newspapers for stories, and included is a 1949 Wheeling, Virginia, newspaper article on Sol White, published in the wake of Jackie Robinson's great success in the majors, entitled "Wheeling Club Boasted First Negro in Pro Baseball," which is illustrated by this very photograph provided by Bob Westlake. Reserve $1,000. Estimate $2,000+. SOLD FOR $9,400.00
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