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1944 Josh Gibson & Satchel Paige Signed Album Page, PSA/DNA Mint 9....

2014 May 15 - 17 Sports Collectibles Catalog Auction - Dallas #7105

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Auction Ended On: May 16, 2014
Item Activity: 11 Internet/mail bidders
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Location: Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219

1944 Josh Gibson & Satchel Paige Signed Album Page, PSA/DNA Mint 9. As far back as the tales of Abner Doubleday at the sport's earliest breaths, the titans of baseball history have tread the line between fact and folklore. Did Cobb intentionally spike Home Run Baker? Did Ruth call his Shot? Did Joe say it ain't so? No such mystery could survive the modern age, and a great part of our fascination with the Negro Leagues is how deeply immersed in mystery it is, with even the stat lines of its greatest stars merely loose sketches rather than columns of orderly figures. They say that Josh Gibson hit over 800 home runs, and that he once hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium, the only man in history to do so. And even Satchel Paige's date of birth was a mutable thing, a year he would change depending on the day of the week he was asked.

The most famous meeting of the greatest bat and arm in Negro League history came during the second game of its 1942 World Series, just two years before the presented article was created. Here again we find no consensus on the truth of the tale, but Paige would commonly report that he intentionally walked the bases full with two outs to meet Gibson, who he promptly retired on three straight strikes. Gibson would be more likely to tell the tale of his monster blast off Paige in the 1944 East-West Game that caromed off the clock tower at Chicago's Comiskey Park. Neither event is documented to any degree of certainty.

Lacking any controversy, however, is the peerless significance of this pair in the chronicles of Negro League history, and while Paige's longevity served to make his autograph widely available to the modern hobby, Gibson was well within the grip of his terminal cancer when he autographed this page for a fan. He had fallen into a coma in early 1943, at which time he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but he refused the option of surgical removal and lived with debilitating headaches until his death by stroke just three months before Jackie Robinson's April 1947 integration of the Majors. For nearly thirty years he lay in an unmarked grave until a small plaque was finally erected in 1975.

Gibson signs in pencil rated 9/10 by the experts at PSA/DNA, who also officially assign the "Homestead Grays B.B. Club 1944" notation to the Hall of Fame slugger in their letter of authenticity. The reverse of the page finds his pitching counterpart signing in the less common double-L "Satchell Paige" format, with the notation "Kansas City Monarchs Base Ball Club" likewise applied in his 9/10 pencil. Album page measures 4.5x5".

Certainly the dearth of Negro League material in the modern hobby is due in large part to the hardships of the Jim Crow era in which they were created, and the survival of such a delicate and important piece as this is nothing short of a miracle. It's one of the most significant Negro League articles we've ever encountered, and arguably the finest autographed piece from this segregated organization, bar none. Encapsulated by PSA/DNA, Mint 9. Full Grading LOA from PSA/DNA.

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