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    Inaugural Season of the National Basketball Association!

    1949-50 Sheboygan Red Skins NBA Game Worn Jersey--Only Example Known!

    Please note: We have been contacted by the lead historian for the Sheboygan County Historical Museum who has informed us that they have another Redskins jersey in their possession. As such, this jersey must now be characterized as the only privately held example, rather than the only example known.

    Seminal artifact from the birth of the National Basketball Association is arguably the most significant piece of early hardcourt material to hit the auction block since James Naismith's original rules for the game garnered over $4 million in late 2010. If you've never heard of the Sheboygan Redskins, you can be forgiven. The franchise pulled out of the league after just a single season, and after two more years on the fringes of the organized game, the team folded entirely and quickly faded from the public consciousness.

    But now it's back in a big way, opening a door that's been shut for six decades with a thrilling reminder of the humble beginnings of the sport's ultimate proving grounds. The Sheboygan Red Skins were born in the second year of the National Basketball League's (NBL) existence in 1938, playing their home games at the 1,500-seat Eagle Auditorium until 1942, when they relocated to the 3,500-seat Sheboygan Municipal Auditorium and Armory five blocks away. Their NBL pinnacle would come the following year, as they claimed the League Championship for which they were presented the inaugural Naismith Memorial Trophy during a team banquet at the old Hotel Foeste in downtown Sheboygan.

    But it was August 3, 1949 that Sheboygan and six other NBL teams merged with the ten-team Basketball Association of America (BAA) to give birth to the NBA, where the Red Skins represented the smallest market and smallest home venue ever to compete within its confines. When the Oshkosh club folded early in the season, the Sheboygan Red Skins assumed the role of the oldest professional basketball team on earth. They marched to an impressive seven and two start to open the season, with victories over the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks, Rochester Royals and Indianapolis Olympians.

    Their most noteworthy victory came on January 5, 1950 when they defeated George Mikan's Minneapolis Lakers 85-82 in front of a standing-room-only crowd of 3,800 on their home court. The eventual World Champion Lakers boasted five future Hall of Famers (Mikan, Jim Pollard, Vern Mikkelsen, Slater Martin and coach John Kundla), but the victory would prove to be the last stand for the Sheboygan squad, which limped into the playoffs as injuries claimed its top talent, and was quickly eliminated. The club withdrew from the NBA on April 24, 1950, moving from the National Professional Basketball League, to the Western Basketball Association, and, in 1952, to extinction.

    This stunning red durene gamer was worn during that single NBA season by star University of Wisconin alumnus Bobby Cook, who briefly held the NBA single-game scoring record with forty-four in a January 1950 home meeting with the Denver Nuggets. Cook would later coach the final incarnation of the Red Skins prior to its dissolution. The "Red Skins" name and number "3" are applied to the chest in white tackle twill, with number "3" repeated on verso. Interior rear tail holds dual tagging: washing instructions label and "MacGregor GoldSmith size 38."

    The jersey exhibits solid wear both from inaugural season NBA competition and secondary use by our consignor, who was issued the jersey to wear in practice as a collegiate Wisconsin athlete in the early 1960's. His letter of provenance will attend. The experts at MEARS have confirmed this jersey could only be of 1949-50 NBA vintage, and deduct a half-point for scattered fraying of the stitching and minor spotting, but find no other cause for complaint. LOA from MEARS, A9.5. Letter of provenance from consignor.


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    Auction Dates
    August, 2012
    2nd Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 2,960

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