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Please Note: The postcard offered below was later (after the auction) found to NOT be J. L. Wilkinson. Further research has shown that it features a different member of the All-Nations Team.
Circa 1915 J. L. Wilkinson Real-Photo Postcard
Starting Bid - $1,000.00 , Sold For - $4,112.50
The extraordinarily significant and rare (possibly unique) real-photo postcard presented here captures recently elected Hall of Fame owner J. L. Wilkinson in uniform as a member of the All-Nations Team. This is a particularly remarkable card for Hall of Fame card collectors. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only card picturing Wilkinson alone (as well as being the only example of this real-photo postcard known to exist) and thus can be considered his one and only baseball card. Incredibly, this extremely significant card is a very recent discovery to the collecting world, unknown until 2007. (Note: Wilkinson does appear on a team postcard as owner of one of the first all-girls barnstorming teams, the 1909 Hopkins Brothers Lady Baseball Club from Des Moines, Iowa, which while not quite the same as this amazing card, at least is an alternative.) Wilkinson was one of the key figures in the early success of the Negro Leagues. In addition to being the founder and owner of the Kansas City Monarchs, one of the greatest teams in the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues, he was a pioneer in the use of lighting in baseball, and can also truly be given credit for giving Jackie Robinson his professional start in the game. Few executives have ever had a greater impact on the game in general, and the Negro Leagues in particular. Wilkinson is pictured on this card in his All-Nations Team uniform standing next to a railway car in a pitching pose, with arms overhead in mid windup. This team actually traveled by pullman train, so the fact that the train is pictured in the background is particularly noteworthy. In his earliest days in the game, Wilkinson was a promising pitcher until arm problems sidelined his career. Undaunted, he remained in the game as an owner and promoter by forming the All-Nations Team in 1912. The All-Nations was a multiracial team that was a precursor of the all-black Kansas City Monarchs. This postcard pictures him in his All Nations uniform and therefore dates sometime between the years 1912 and 1918. The manufacturing date of the postcard (1904-1918) further confirms the time period. Although Wilkinson was a white man, he is best remembered today as a pioneer figure in the Negro Leagues. After the All-Nations Team disbanded, Wilkinson took the best black ballplayers from the club and formed the Kansas City Monarchs, which he developed into one of the most successful franchises in Negro League history. The Monarchs were inaugural members of the original Negro National League in 1920 and then later the Negro American League, and won an unprecedented seventeen League pennants and two Colored World Series. In the early 1930s Wilkinson helped revolutionize the game by introducing night baseball and in 1945 he signed Jackie Robinson to his first professional contract. The Monarchs sent more black ballplayers to the white Major Leagues than any other Negro League team and nine of Wilkinson’s Negro League players were eventually elected to the Hall of Fame, as well as Ernie Banks and Jackie Robinson. Wilkinson was elected to Hall of Fame in 2006, along with a sixteen other deserving Negro League players and executives. The postcard (3.5 x 5.5 inches) displays a few light creases in the upper right and left corners, and the lower right corner. A small piece of clear tape has been affixed to the reverse in support of the upper left corner creases. The postcard has never been mailed. In Very Good to Excellent condition. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $4,112.50
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