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Circa 1949 "Jackie Robinson All-Stars" Barnstorming Signed Baseball with Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $1,763
Official American League (Harridge) ball signed in black ink by eighteen individuals, most of whom are former Negro League players. Of the eighteen signatures, we have positively identified thirteen: Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby (sweet spot, first black player in the American League), Barney Serrell, Luke Easter (twice, one signature is in blue ink), Gene Baker, Connie Johnson, Theolic Smith, Tommy Thompson, Andrew Porter, Buster Haywood, Archie Ware, Lonnie Summers, and Nap Gulley. The five remaining signatures (some of which are partially illegible) appear to be those of Andy Amber, Saul Wilson, Ray Neal, Cal Walker, and Herbert Sewell, and though these five names are not listed in the standard reference books as having played in either the Negro Leagues or the Major Leagues, all were very likely barnstorming players as well (who did not play in the Negro Leagues or the Major Leagues). Based upon the thirteen recognizable signatures, it is obvious that this ball originates from a Jackie Robinson "All-Star" barnstorming tour dating from the late 1940s or early 1950s. Beginning in 1946 and continuing through the 1950s, Jackie Robinson annually led a group of "all-star" players on a postseason barnstorming tour. Postseason barnstorming tours were common at the time, as they allowed players to earn extra money during the off season and also provided fans living in cities without Major League teams the opportunity to see the game's top players in person. Robinson's celebrity status at the time as the first player to break baseball's long-standing color barrier made him the perfect "front-man" for the tour and the games were well attended at each venue. During the early years, Robinson's barnstorming team toured in Mexico and the roster featured primarily Negro League players. In later years, as integration progressed, the team included many black Major League stars, including his Dodgers teammates Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe. (Campanella also led his own, separate barnstorming tour in the 1950s.) This ball, based upon the signatures present, most likely dates from one of Robinson's early tours in 1949 or 1950. Most of the players represented on this ball were major Negro League stars, including Luke Easter (he later enjoyed a successful Major League career), Buster Haywood (top catcher), Connie Johnson (mound ace), and Barney Serrell (one of the top second baseman of his era). Interestingly, Serrell left the Kansas City Monarchs in 1944 and was replaced by Jackie Robinson the following year. Serrell was considered by many at the time to be a better all-around player than Robinson and it is reported that he was greatly disappointed that Rickey chose Robinson over him to break the color barrier. Obviously, he held no grudges against Robinson, as evidenced by his inclusion on this particular barnstorming club. Any and all barnstorming team balls are quite rare (the teams were usually together only for about a month's time), especially those originating from such a significant barnstorming team such as Robinson's All-Stars. This is the first example we have ever offered and it would make a substantial addition to either an autographed ball collection or a Negro League collection. Signatures range from "6" to "9," averaging "7/8," and the ball is in Excellent condition overall. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000. SOLD FOR $1,763
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