Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oscar Charleston as a Dodger?

This is from a current auction available from American Memorabilia and is stated as being a photo taken by famed photographer Teenie Harris in 1945. It's not an original vintage pic, but is a modern photo taken from an original negative.

Teenie Harris worked for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of America's leading African-American newspapers. He had made it his mission to photograph African-American life from the 1930's to 1970's, so it makes sense that he would cover Negro League Baseball- especially considering the popularity and fame of the Pittsburgh Crawford ball team. A large group of his negatives (80,000) currently reside at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Now, you are probably wondering, what is Negro League star and Baseball Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston doing in a Dodgers uniform? After all, he was way too old to play by the time integration came around. Well, this isn't the Brooklyn Dodgers that we know well, but is instead the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers- a Negro League team created by Branch Rickey for a newly created Negro League called the United States League in 1945. This was, of course, just a smoke screen by Rickey. He had to be able to scout the Negro League without having the gaze of the segregated Baseball getting a whiff of his plans. He needed to find the perfect player, and this rouse allowed him to send his top scouts out to find him. As we all know, Jackie Robinson is who ultimately became the ground breaker. Interestingly, in the background is Jackie Robinson himself. At least, I think that's him.

(Auction Link)

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