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1956 Jackie Robinson Game Used Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10....

2012 August 2 Vintage Sports Collectibles Platinum Night Signature Auction- Baltimore #7057

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Auction Ended On: Aug 2, 2012
Item Activity: 10 Internet/mail/phone bidders
2,512 page views
Location: B & O Warehouse, 6th Floor
Camden Yard Banquet Room
333 West Camden Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Gifted to a friend and admirer of Robinson's on the final day of his career!
1956 Jackie Robinson Game Used Bat, PSA/DNA GU 10. Jackie's last bat? It's more than just a fair assumption. The sizeable stack of paperwork charting the provenance of this historic lumber tracks the tale back to that final day at Ebbets Field, October 10, 1956, and a New York priest and devout Brooklyn Dodgers fan named Father Jimmy O'Halloran. As the story was recounted by O'Halloran to a friend and fellow Dodgers fan named Ron Allen, the clergyman had begun to pester Robinson for a bat late in the 1956 season. On the final day, after falling to the Yankees by a tally of nine runs to none in Game Seven of the World Series, a dejected Robinson approached O'Halloran and handed him this bat. Touched by Robinson's generosity, Father Jimmy insisted he accept five dollars for the gift, which Robinson reluctantly accepted.

The transaction is retold in a 1982 letter from Allen to his daughter, who relates that his standing offer to buy the bat from O'Halloran should he ever wish to sell was accepted in 1962, as the priest was suffering with health difficulties. The purchase price was set at $100, a considerable sum for the day. Sadly, Allen notes, O'Halloran passed away in 1965. Yet Allen retained a postcard sent to him by his friend, which reads, in part, "I sent the bat from NY the day before we left last Tues. I didn't believe we could tow it along across country. As I mentioned before, the great Jackie Robinson offered to gift me the bat but I demanded payment of 5 and he accepted. It was the very last stand of 1956. Even though I love the bat, your 100 offer is a miracle at a much needed time."

In the mid-1990's, noted collector Dale Cicero purchased the bat from Allen's daughter, her father having passed away in 1985. Cicero recounts taking the bat to a banquet where Negro League legend Buck O'Neil was to be a speaker. Cicero recounts in his letter, "When I placed the bat in Mr. O'Neil's hands, he took a step back and gently rubbed the entire bat. He kept saying 'Jackie Robinson' over and over, almost reverently. When I suggested that he swing the bat, he looked at me and said, 'Son, this bat belonged to the greatest, most courageous man that ever lived, Mister Jackie Robinson. Other than the good Lord himself, there's only been one man ever worthy enough to swing this bat, and that's Jackie. But thank you, son, holding it in my hands now is one of the highlights of my year."

An examination by leading bat expert and top PSA/DNA authenticator John Taube finds no contradiction to the history, noting that the signature model Hillerich & Bradsby C117L matches those sent to Robinson between 1954 and 1956, the standard ash construction correct at thirty-five inches and thirty-two and a half ounces. Taube describes "tremendous use," with "slight grain swelling from repeated ball contact...the barrel is covered with ball marks and deep ball stitch impressions. Green and red bat rack streaks are visible on the right barrel, left barrel and handle. Also visible on the handle is some tape residue." He notes that the back barrel has been repaired, and that Robinson's universally retired number "42" appears in vintage black paint on the knob. The bat is uncracked.

Jackie Robinson's decade of brave service to Major League Baseball precipitated the greatest sea change in American sports history, and one could properly identify the pioneering Hall of Famer as an essential stepping stone in the path from Frederick Douglass to Martin Luther King, Jr. to President Barack Obama on the path to equality. This bat marks the end of one great journey, and the crucial center of another that continues on. LOA from PSA/DNA, GU 10. Various letters of provenance, as noted.

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