Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Is This Jackie Robinson's Last Home Run Ball?

Oftentimes, Baseball collectible message boards can provide a wealth of knowledge, as well as, some great personal stories.  Fortunately, a couple of weeks ago I came across one such thread at Net54.  A poster by the name of Steve relayed a great story about a family heirloom that is a wonder to behold even though it may be impossible to prove.  First of all, I wanted to express my thanks to Steve for allowing me to share this.

Check out the Baseball above.  Steve claims that it is a home run ball struck by Jackie Robinson during the Dodgers Tour of Japan in 1956.  On top of that, it appears to be the very last home run hit by Jackie in a Dodgers uniform.  Here is what he originally wrote:
My father had this baseball in his sock drawer for as long as I can remember. He passed away four years ago and I brought it home with me and it has been sitting on my desk ever since (except on a few instances when I had to take it away from my dog). I remember when I was young I asked my father about it and he told me he caught it at a game when he was in the Army and was stationed in Japan. He said he went to the baseball game and he caught this home run ball by reaching over "a little Japanese man sitting in front of him that thought he was going to get it (my father was 6'-2"). He wrote on the ball, "Hit by Jackie Robinson in Tokyo, Japan, 12 Nov '56, Dodgers beat Japan All-Stars 10-2". Being that childhood memories can be foggy, I asked my mother (who is now 77) what she remembered about it and she recalled that "he caught it when he was in Japan and it was hit by some guy and I think it was the next to the last home run he hit, or something like that. Didn't he write what it was on the ball?"
Well, some further research by Steve unearthed some details about this game.  From the Walter O'Malley's website:
Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Roy Campanella and Pee Wee Reese each connected for home runs as the Dodgers rolled to a 10-2 win, their final appearance in Tokyo on the 1956 Goodwill Tour to Japan. Roger Craig was the beneficiary of the offensive onslaught as the Dodgers took a commanding 8-1 lead after six innings. Robinson, appearing in his next-to-last game as a Dodger, belted his final home run in a Dodger uniform and it was a memorable one — a 420-foot shot off Shoichi Kaneda in the second inning.
So there you go.  Jackie did in fact hit his last home run in a Dodger uniform in this game, and if Steve's family story is true then this is that historic home run Baseball.  Unfortunately, there is likely to be no way to actually prove that it is the real ball.  Heck, you would think that Steve's father would have written home run ball on it rather than just "hit by".  After all, 50+ year old memories have a tendancy to change over time, and it could just as easily have been a foul ball hit by Jackie Robinson.  Of course, if a photo from that event ever popped up that pointed to the crowd as the ball landed in the stands, then that could shed some light and provide verifiable proof.  Still, even without actual proof it's a great story and an awesome family heirloom.

Below are more pics of the Baseball from different sides.  It's a Tamazawa Baseball which was known to have been a brand used in Japanese Baseball.

Again, a big thank you to Steve for allowing me to share his story and pics.

* Please follow on twitter @ernestreyes *
* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...