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Lot
80071

1949 Jackie Robinson All-Star Game Used Bat from Robinson Estate....

2011 August Chicago Signature Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Auction #7037

 
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Auction Ended On: Aug 4, 2011
Item Activity: 2 Internet/mail/phone bidders Number of Bidders
2,978 page views
Location: Muvico
9701 W. Bryn Mawr Avenue
Rosemont, IL 60018

Description:
1949 Jackie Robinson All-Star Game Used Bat from Robinson Estate. Though the brave Robinson battled through the harshest adversity ever faced by a Major League player in winning the 1947 Rookie of the Year Award, his first great season (and arguably his greatest ever) would be posted two years later in 1949. In the spring of that year, the second baseman came under the tutelage of Hall of Famer George Sisler, who taught Jackie to anticipate the fastball when at the plate, and then simply adjust for breaking pitches. "Sisler showed me how to stop lunging," Robinson explained, "how to check my swing until the last fraction of a second."

The results were striking. Robinson's batting average jumped forty-six points to a National League-best .342. His ratio of walks to strikeouts more than doubled, and he added thirty-nine RBI's to his 1948 total, which, along with his League-leading thirty-seven stolen bases, earned him the 1949 Most Valuable Player Award.

His early-season brilliance likewise earned him the lumber listed here, presented to Robinson as one of the first African-American players (along with teammates Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe) to appear in an All-Star Game. This historic milestone, the Ebbets Field geography of the contest, and the connection to Robinson's MVP and National League Championship season establish this bat as one of the most historically and culturally relevant Jackie Robinson artifacts ever made available for public sale.

The appeal is further enhanced by the fact that the bat served for decades as Robinson's own trophy commemorating the occasion, as the mounting hole at knob end and the ring of discoloration around the barrel from the wall cradle indicate. This is particularly noteworthy, and here's why:

Hillerich & Bradsby supplied two bats to every All-Star player each season, identical to standard issue gamers with the exception of the special stamping on the barrel, in this case "All-Star Game, Brooklyn 1949." Remarkably, both of Robinson's bats from this game have survived to present. The other example, boasting heavy (obviously multi-game) use realized a remarkable $158,400 in a 2006 auction. The presented example, exhibiting what appears to be just a single game's use, is the one Robinson chose to mount in his trophy room.

While the six decades that have passes allows us to do no more than hypothesize, this data would point to the conclusion that the heavily-used example had been left in Jackie's Ebbets Field locker for the All-Star Game and then integrated into his arsenal as the regular season resumed. The presented bat, conversely, saw its light use in this most historic of Midsummer Classics, and was then toted home that evening by Robinson as a memento of the occasion.

Make no mistake--Robinson took great pride in that first All-Star nod, and saw it for the turning point it was. His emergence in 1947 may have signaled the Major Leagues' ability to accept his race, but this recognition as one of the game's finest players was emphatic proof that his skin color was no longer its main focus. Despite Rookie of the Year play and a fifth place finish in 1947 MVP voting, Robinson had been denied the honor his first season. The following year the 1948 All-Star Game was played at St. Louis' Sportsman's Park, where Robinson faced his ugliest protests of all National League road trips. It was only fitting that the ballpark that first welcomed him to the game would welcome him to its elite brotherhood as well.

The bat is accompanied by a letter from Jackie's widow Rachel Robinson providing ironclad provenance which bolsters the GU 7 rating applied by PSA/DNA. The thirty-five inches and ounces of length and weight respectively perfectly match the Louisville Slugger ordering records for this All-Star S100 model, with points lost only for the expected light use and the mounting marks. But the tale these "detractions" tell is worth far more than the numerical tally, establishing this bat once treasured by the game's greatest sociological pioneer as a treasure for the ages. Letter of provenance from Rachel Robinson. LOA from PSA/DNA, GU 7.

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