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1919 Brooklyn Royals Negro-League Team Photo with Louis Santop
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $5,875
Rare original photo of the 1919 Brooklyn Royal Giants posing together in front of the grandstands at Dexter Park. Twelve team members are pictured here, all but one of whom is identified in neatly painted white lettering upon his respective image. Players include Louis Santop, Harry Kenyon (misspelled "Kenyan"), Oliver Marcell, Edward Douglass, H. B. Harris (business manager), Chester Brooks, Merven Ryan, Claude Johnson, "Dud" Johnson, Peter "Ed" Green, and Robert Sloan. Pitcher Jesse Hubbard is noted as being "Missing" from the photo. Only one player is not identified (seated, far left), but his position is listed as "P" (pitcher). According to our research the only pitcher on the 1919 Brooklyn Royal Giants not represented here by name is Dick "Cannonball" Redding (future photographic research may later confirm that identification). The notation "Brooklyn Royals Giants 1919 Buswick Park" is lettered in white along the base of the mount, below which is lettered "Dexter Park. Brooklyn. N.Y." (Dexter Park was often referred to as Bushwick Park because it was the home of the semipro Brooklyn Bushwicks.) The Brooklyn Royal Giants were founded in 1905 and reigned as one of the top Eastern clubs in black baseball over the next fifteen seasons. In 1923 they became a charter member of the Eastern Colored League, continuing play for five seasons before dropping out of the league. After a one-year association with the Negro National League in 1933 the club began to suffer financial troubles that ultimately relegated them to secondary status among black ball clubs for the remainder of the decade. Any and all Negro League team photos are rare, especially those dating prior to 1920 and picturing prominent clubs. This one is all the more significant for the fact that it includes three top players from that era, most notably Hall of Fame catcher Louis Santop. Nicknamed "Big Bertha" by virtue of his tape-measure home runs, Santop was also commonly referred to as the "black Babe Ruth." Like Ruth, Santop's power made him the greatest drawing card in black baseball at the time and his reported salary of $500 a month reflected his superstar status. He was also an outstanding defensive catcher, known for his strong arm and ability to block the plate. Oliver Marcell, who is pictured here in just his second season of professional ball, was regarded as the finest fielding third baseman of his era. In 1952, three years after his death, Marcell was selected as the greatest third baseman in Negro League history by a poll conducted by the Pittsburgh Courier . Most important, he beat out future Hall of Famers Ray Dandridge and Judy Johnson for the honor. Eddie Douglass, who was also in just his second season of professional ball at the time of this photo, was regarded by many as the best all-around first baseman of his day. He later became player/manager of the Royal Giants in 1923 when the team became a charter member of the Eastern Colored League. The photo (9.75 x 7.5 inches) remains in Excellent to Mint condition and has been affixed (by means of adhesive) to a cardboard mount (12 x 10 inches). The mount displays evidence of water staining along all four borders and has a few small border chips. The mount is also toned from having once been matted and framed. This is an exceptional and rare Negro League image picturing one of the top clubs of the day, and an almost forgotten but very significant chapter in the history of Brooklyn baseball. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000++. SOLD FOR $5,875
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