Circa 1935 Jesse Owens Race Worn Ohio State Track Jersey. Before there was Jackie Robinson, there was Jesse Owens. One wonders if the second would have been possible without the first. For the elite African-American athlete, performance was only a part of the equation, as Owens once cleverly expressed: "Although I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the President either."

    Owens' four Gold Medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics assures his immortality in sports history, and his quiet refutation of the warped Aryan philosophy which would be used to justify the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century unquestionably establishes him as one of the most historically significant athletic figures from a sociological standpoint. Few sporting artifacts would be as well-suited to the Smithsonian Museum as to the various Halls of Fame, but any race worn artifact from the career of Jesse Owens is included in that list. Here we present the most significant ever to surface at public auction.

    Admittedly, there is not much competition for that title. Almost nothing has emerged in the collecting hobby beyond autographs, various programs and ticket stubs. That cannot diminish the importance of this Ohio State University jersey, however, which could only be topped by the uniform worn in Berlin. In the span of forty-five minutes on May 25, 1935, at the Big Ten meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Owens tied the 100 yard world record and bested the record in the long jump, 220 yard sprint and 220 yard hurdles. In 2005, NBC analyst Bob Costas and UCF professor of sports history Richard C. Crepeau both chose this accomplishment as the most impressive athletic achievement since 1850.

    We cannot claim that this is the jersey worn by Owens on that day, but his term of Ohio State service was only two years, allowing for a very reasonable mathematic possibility. Perfectly matching period photos, the red wool tank supplies a uniquely fonted "OHIO" in white felt lettering on the chest, and an enormous stenciled "OWENS" at interior rear tail. Period "Spalding [size] 36" labeling is found nearby, the fit correct for Owens wiry frame. Wear is solid, with no damage to note. An included pair of shorts are not Owens', and are included only for display purposes. The lot derives from the same elite track collection which provided our August 2010 "Platinum Night" auction with the incredible Jim Thorpe jersey from his days at the Carlisle Indian School. LOA from Heritage Auctions.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2010
    4th-5th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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