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    Worn During Historic NCAA Championship Game!

    1966 Jerry Armstrong Game Worn Texas Western Miners Jersey. Only one year earlier, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march on Selma, Alabama in support of voting rights for the African-American populace was repelled with tear gas, whips and clubs as Jim Crow fought violently against its impending and welcome demise. And yet here, on college basketball's greatest stage, five young black ballplayers were taking the court to meet the all-white powerhouse University of Kentucky Wildcats. Those forty minutes of basketball would generate 40,000 pieces of hate mail for Texas Western coach Don Haskins, and more than a dozen threats upon his life. It would also immortalize the team from a cash-strapped school in El Paso, Texas, and continue the work of Jesse Owens, Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson in reshaping the way the world viewed the black athlete.

    Jerry Armstrong was the biggest white player on the racially integrated team, both in physical stature and ability, a defensive specialist favored by Haskins as muscle to counter physical post play. But the team that stood between the Miners and a National Championship on March 16, 1966 was one built for speed, a heavily-favored Kentucky squad playfully nicknamed "Rupp's Runts" for the diminutive size of the players fielded by Hall of Fame coach Adolph Rupp. Haskins would later insist, as would the members of his team, that the decision to field an entirely African-American was due entirely to those players' ability to run with the Runts, with no thought whatsoever to the historical implications of the strategy.

    So while Armstrong was inactive for the Miners' Cinderella story, this is the jersey he wore on the bench and during the joyous celebration that concluded Texas Western's 72-65 victory at College Park, Maryland. Those Heritage bidders who were active in 2006 will recall our offering of star sophomore guard Willie Worsley's jersey, and the research undertaken by our cataloging team that included an interview with student trainer Fred Schwake and sports information director Eddie Mullens at our world headquarters here in Dallas. Schwake was with the team from 1963 through 1967, and Mullens from 1962 through 1971, and each confirmed that this underfunded club had just one white and one orange jersey for that season. And furthermore, they assured us that these single jerseys were recycled for use each of the years that they were there. The team never got new jerseys.

    The Championship game provenance of this garment is further assured by the signed letter of provenance from starter Willie Cager, who wrote, "I am the owner of Jerry Armstrong's 1966 NCAA Championship Game (game worn) jersey. The jersey is orange in color and bears #21. After the championship game, I picked the jersey up from the locker room floor. The jersey has been in my possession ever since."

    The jersey style is unmistakable, particularly in the wake of the popular 2006 motion picture "Glory Road" that celebrated the Miners' Championship exploits. The orange durene gamer is most distinctive for its candy striped piping at collar and cuffs. White and black tackle twill announces "Texas Western" on the chest, with number "21" applied to obverse and reverse. Lower left front tail bears a tag from a local El Paso division of "Sand-Knit," with a size "38" flap tag to the right. Very solid wear is in keeping with Schwake and Mullens' assertion of multi-season use.

    At its best, athletic competition has informed the public consciousness and inspired it to a higher level of peace and understanding. Rarely are collectors presented with the opportunity to share in that history. This is one of those times. Letter of provenance from teammate Willie Cager. LOA from Heritage Auctions.

    1966 Jerry Armstrong Game Worn Texas Western Miners Jersey.

    *A donation of $100 to the American Red Cross is required to attend the Live auction.

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    Auction Dates
    February, 2013
    23rd-24th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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