Friday, April 01, 2016

The Don Drysdale Collection at SCP - Part I - The Prep and Minor League Years

The 2016 Baseball auction season is about to start with a bang.  Officially opening up this coming Wednesday, April 6th is SCP's Spring Premier Auction, and as I mentioned in a post yesterday it includes over 160 different lots from the estate of Don Drysdale.  Everything you can imagine is there to look at.  In fact, there is so much stuff I'm planning on writing several different post to share my favorites.  Per a press release provided by SCP this morning:
According to Ann Meyers-Drysdale, Don’s widow, a portion of the proceeds from the auction will go to various Drysdale-supported charities. “We thought this through as a family and decided it was time to share Don’s most prestigious awards and memorabilia with the fans and the collecting community,” she said. “Plus, it provides us with a great opportunity to give back to many of the causes that were near and dear to Don’s heart.”
To start things off here are some items from his prep and minor league years.

(Auction Link)
As you may know, Don Drysdale was a Southern California kid.  He graduated from Van Nuys High School and recorded a 6-1 record as a senior.  At right is his Senior Letterman Sweater from Van Nuys High School.  (See the auction link here) By many accounts, Drysdale was a known commodity and highly scouted.  Branch Rickey, who was working for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the time, knew all about the tall right-hander.  In a scouting report filed in June of 1954 he wrote:
A lot of artistry about this boy.  Way above average fastball.  It is really good.  Direction of the spin and the speed of rotation the same on all fastball pitches, - angle of delivery the same, stride is wide, and his body is in all pitches.  Fine pitching hand, and placement on fast and curve ball needs no coaching.  Let him along on all his fingering.  He is good.
He was so good, in fact, he threw a no-hitter against Hollywood High School on April 22, 1954.  Below is a game ball from that occasion (Auction Link Here).  He struck out 12 batters that day and gave up no runs.
(Auction Link)

Unfortunately, Rickey and every other team in the league didn't have a chance to sign him.  Don's father, Scott Drysdale, was a bird-dog scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers, so they no doubt had first dibs.  They signed the youngster as an amateur free agent in 1954 for a $4,000 bonus and a salary of $600 per month.  BTW, you can check out Drysdale's high school fielding glove at the auction, as well (Link Here).

Don immediately joined the professional ranks and entered the clubhouse for the Bakersfield Indians - the Dodgers Class C club.  He started 14 games, went 8-5 with an 3.46 ERA and struck out 73 batters in 112 innings.  Drysdale also hit .294 (15-for-51) and drove in 14 runs.  Below is his Bakersfield Indians minor league uniform (Auction Link Here)
(Auction Link)

Below is a game ball from Don's very first professional game (Auction Link Here).  It was against the Salinas Packers.  Written on it is:
“1st Professional Ballgame Bakersfield 8 Salinas 4.”
(Auction Link)

The next season, 1955, Drysdale would join the Dodgers top minor league club in Montreal.  He would start in 27 games, throw three shutouts, complete eleven games, strike out 80 batters and record a 11-11 record with an 3.33 ERA.  Don would also win his first professional championship.  With a league best 99-59 record, the Montreal Royals would win the International League title.  Below is his championship ring (Auction Link Here).
(Auction Link)

Stay tuned, I'll have several more post next week featuring items from Don Drysdale's collection.

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

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