Rare 1945 Kansas City Monarchs Team Photo with Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson - PSA/DNA Type 1 - Robinson's Only Season in the Negro Leagues

Sold For: $5,400

Auction Year: 2017 spring

Lot: 1948

Item Year: 1945

Category: Post-1900 Baseball Memorabilia

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Original photo capturing the 1945 Kansas City Monarchs, including Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige, in a classic team pose at Blues Stadium in Kansas City. Certified as an original Type 1 photograph by PSA/DNA. This is what we believe to be the only known photo of the 1945 Kansas City Monarchs featuring both Paige and Robinson together on the club. (Robinson, who is pictured kneeling to the far right, played with the Monarchs only in 1945, which definitively dates the photo.) Paige didn't join the Monarchs until Memorial Day in 1945, and an injury to Robinson's shoulder in August ended his season prematurely. As a result, this photo must have been taken sometime in either June, July, or August of that year (possibly August, because we can see that Robinson's right hand is bandaged and probably relates to the injury that cut short his season). In addition to Robinson and Paige (standing, fourth from the left), the photo also includes Hall of Fame pitcher Hilton Smith (standing, far left).

This photo has a unique provenance: it was obtained by our consignor from prominent Negro League historian Phil Dixon, who, in turn, received it from an employee at the Kansas City Call newspaper sometime in the 1980s. Interestingly, the team pictured here is misidentified on the reverse. According to the handwritten pencil notations, the team is mistakenly listed as the 1946 Kansas City Monarchs and, as such, most of the individual player identifications are also in error. It must be pointed out that there is an additional handwritten notation on the reverse that reads "Identified by Hilton Smith April 6, 1978." However, the photo is unmistakably that of the 1945 Monarchs because, as we mentioned earlier, 1945 was the only season Jackie Robinson played with the Monarchs. The only other example of this photo we have ever seen appears in Larry Lester's informative history Black Baseball in Kansas City. Lester is one of the founders of the Negro League Museum in Kansas City and in a conversation with our consignor, he stated that he sold his copy of the photo that appears in his book decades ago and has no idea of its whereabouts today. (Since we have never seen that other copy it is not known for certain that it is a Type 1 original; it may very well be a second-generation print. It is definitely not the photo offered here.) In his book, Lester correctly identified each of the players in this photo: (Top Row): Hilton Smith, Ensloe Wylie, Lee Davis, Satchel Paige, Frank Duncan, Lefty LaMarque Jack Matchett, Sammie Haynes, and Booker McDaniels. (Front Row): Lee Moody, Eddie Locke, Emory Long, Jesse Williams, John Scott, Dave Harper, Walter Thomas, Herb Souell, Chico Renfroe, and Jackie Robinson.

At the time this photo was taken, little did anyone realize the extraordinary turn of events that would quickly follow. Branch Rickey was already scouring the Negro Leagues looking for the one player with both the skills and mental fortitude to be the lynchpin of his "Great Experiment." Based upon the advice of scout Clyde Sukeforth, Robinson was chosen to be that player, and his departure from the Monarchs, while opening the doors of organized baseball for all African-American players, also sounded the death knell for the Negro Leagues. This is both a rare and historically significant photographic record of Robinson's one-year tenure in the Negro Leagues prior to his breaking baseball's long-standing color barrier in 1946. The photo (10 x 7.75 inches) displays a trim along the top border, a chip in the lower-left corner, minor edge tears, moderate creases, and chipping along the edges. In Good condition overall, but the central image area is closer to Excellent in its overall appearance. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open).

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