Monday, April 07, 2014

Dodgers Memorabilia at REA Auctions - The Historic

I've written it many times before, Robert Edwards Auctions consistently has some of the best Baseball memorabilia available.  They are the preeminent sports auction house in the country, and their catalogs are filled with so much history they are often kept by collectors as a hobby book.

Right now, REA is running their Spring Baseball auction and it is filled with so much Dodger memorabilia I just couldn't write one post.  In fact, I couldn't just write two.  Instead, I'll have as many as six different posts featuring the Dodgers, and I may throw in a general Baseball historical artifacts post just for the heck of it.  

To start with, I'll share some historically significant Dodger memorabilia for you to look at.

This first item is something that should be in a museum, and if the Dodgers are serious about building one then this item should be there.  Below is a letter written by the original Dodger owner, Charlie Byrne, to the National League seeking admission, and it has been signed and approved by the leagues governing board.

It states:
To the Secretary of - The National League of Professional B. B. Clubs. Dear Sir: The Brooklyn Base Ball Club and organization incorporated under the laws of the State of New York, respectfully asks for membership in your league. Said Club is duly organized and officered with grounds thoroughly prepared and equipped.
Very Truly Yours - Chas. H. Byrne - Pres. and Secretary.
Per the auction description:
Brooklyn's application was formally accepted by the National League, as noted by the pencil signatures of the members of the League's governing board directly below, which are preceded by the word, "Approved." The five League officials approving the application are "NE Young - Chairman," "John B. Day," W. A. Nimick," W. F. Hewitt," and "J. T. Brush." All of the signatures are boldly scripted and grade "9" or "10." The reverse of the document also bears the docket "Brooklyn/Nov. 14. 1889," scripted in black ink.

Nicholas Young was president of the National League at the time, while John B. Day owned the New York Giants, William A. Nimick owned Pittsburgh, W. F. Hewitt owned Washington, and J. T. Brush had owned the League's Indianapolis franchise up until that year. Charles Byrne owned Brooklyn from 1884 to 1897. Of the six men who have signed this document, Brush is the most important today. As owner of Indianapolis, he was responsible for creating the salary limitations for player contracts that was the main impetus for the formation of the Players' League in 1890. Brush later owned Cincinnati, where he rose to become one of the most powerful figures in baseball. In 1903 he purchased the New York Giants. One year later he unilaterally canceled the World Series by refusing to let his Giants meet the Red Sox in the fall classic, mainly because of a long-standing feud he had with American League president Ban Johnson. His ownership of the Giants continued until his death in 1912.
This document notes the birth of the Dodgers in the National League.

It has an opening bid $30,000.00.
(Auction Link)

The below trophy cup was presented to future Hall of Famer Honus Wagner by the Brooklyn Dodger franchise in 1917.  Per the auction description:
In (his) final season, many of the National League clubs honored him with special farewell ceremonies at their respective ballparks. The Brooklyn Dodgers were no exception, and on July 12th at Ebbets Field they honored Wagner by presenting him with this magnificent sterling-silver trophy cup. The engraving on the cup reads: "Presented to/John H. Wagner/by the/Brooklyn National League/Baseball Club/In commemoration of his long, faithful/and conscientious service/in the National League,/a gentleman on and off the field/and one who has earned/in his chosen profession/the highest esteem/of all interested/in the National Game./Brooklyn N. Y./July 11th/1917."
(Auction Link)

Below are two telegrams sent from 1947 sent by and to Branch Rickey in regards to the promotion of Jackie Robinson to the Majors.  The first telegram is to Arthur Mann, an assistant of Rickey's, by Branch, writing:
"Absolutely nothing either encouraging or discouraging or otherwise relative Robinson. Most important thing right now is avoid any and all publicity on whole subject particularly as to purpose of committee or even its existence. However very sensible for everyone to plan on assumption that something is liable to happen. This sounds like double talk at its best. Thats how I feel this morning." 
Per the auction description:
At the time this telegram was sent, Jackie Robinson and the Montreal Royals were in New York playing a series of exhibition games against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey scheduled the games in the hopes that the Dodgers players, seeing how good Robinson was, would soften their opposition to his joining the club. The "committee" mentioned in the telegram was a thirty-two member panel, formed by Rickey, that was composed of black clergy and other civic leaders from each of the eight National League cities. The committee members were chosen to work with each respective city's local black communities to educate them regarding Robinson's impending debut and to make sure that Robinson received their full support when he came to town. As one can see here in this telegram, Rickey is making sure that the committee's activities remain clandestine prior to Robinson's debut. Mann was most likely able to read between the lines of this "coded" telegram, which told of Rickey's intention to promote Robinson very shortly. That promotion came exactly three days later, on April 10th.
The second telegram is from American theatrical producer Kermit Bloomgarden, and is dated April 10, 1947.  It states:
"Congratulations on your decision to bring Robinson to Brooklyn based on his record he deserves this opportunity and you deserve best=wishes from all of us who believe in fair play in sports and more important fair play in living."
(Auction Link)

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