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Lot 597

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Lot Number: 597

Description: Significant April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson Major League debut game baseball from the collection of umpire Artie Gore with related material.
On the morning of April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson, then 27 years old, stepped from his midtown Manhattan hotel and boarded a train to Ebbets Field in the nearby borough of Brooklyn. He was to play his first game in Major League Baseball with their beloved team, the Dodgers. Robinson had signed on with the organization in 1946 joining the Minor League affiliated Montreal Royals of the International League where he excelled. By seasons end he was named Most Valuable Player batting .349 and displayed prowess of similar levels defensively with an .985 fielding percentage. He also proved an immense drawing card with more than 1,000,000 fans attending games in which he participated, an incredible figure by League standards. More than 26,500 fans showed up on the 15th to watch the Dodgers home opener against the Boston Braves and setting foot onto the field for a 2:25pm start, Jackie Robinson made history. The first African American to play in organized baseball during the 20th Century. Baseballs' unofficial "color barrier" had stood since 1884 when Moses Fleetwood Walker played in (42) games for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association. Though no formal ruling existed a succession of baseball leaders had, for nearly (60) years, openly opposed African American participation in the game. These views had long mirrored those which were culturally accepted however as the 19th Century turned to the 20th these beliefs, and their underpinnings, were quickly losing support. Born into the times, Branch Rickey seemed an unlikely candidate to spend a lifetime in baseball. His short go as a Major League player lasted all of 120 games with 118 of those taking place from 1905-1907 just after his graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University. In 1902, while attending, he had a brief stint as a professional "pay-for-play" football player occasionally joining the Shelby Blues team of the Ohio League. It was there that he befriended teammate Charles Follis, the first professional African American football player, thus forging a relationship which may very well have had a striking impact on his later career. Once quoted as calling Follis "a wonder", he bore firsthand witness to the pressures and tension under which Follis not only played but excelled. Leaping forward some 35 years Rickey had put in a decade managing baseball teams and twice as many working them from the front office. In 1943 he took over the reigns in Brooklyn and assumed control of the Dodgers. That same year Rickey put into action his self titled "Great Experiment", the integration of Major League Baseball. Securing permission from the Brooklyn Dodgers Board of Directors, Rickey embarked on a search "for the right man" scouring the Negro Leagues before he set sights on Jackie Robinson. Robinson was raised by his mother who worked odd jobs to support her family whom she had settled in Pasadena, California. Growing up impoverished in an otherwise affluent area he chose to follow in the footsteps of older siblings and turned to sports. Despite being excluded from a number of organized leagues Robinson persisted and while attending John Muir High School lettered in (4) sports (baseball, basketball, football, and track). Similar abilities were displayed at Pasadena Junior College and ultimately UCLA where he again lettered in the same (4) sports at a varsity level. Ironically, he was weakest in baseball. Dropping out of college just shy of graduation, Robinson briefly attempted a professional football career which was cut short by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After two years military service he was Honorably Discharged in 1944 and by 1945 was a roster member of the Kansas City Monarchs. Though he played in only 47 games for the team his talent was such that fans selected him to play in the 1945 Negro League All-Star Game. On August 28, 1945 Robinson attended what would become a landmark meeting with Branch Rickey. Over three hours they discussed the inevitable hardship which the first African American in baseball was to face and Rickey is famously quoted as stating that he needed a player "with guts enough not to fight back." Agreeing to look the other way no matter bad the taunts, jeers, and threats were to get, Robinson and Rickey reached a deal which remained secret until late October when a contract was very publicly signed which assigned Robinson to Montreal for the 1946 season. Just six days prior to start of Major League play in 1947 Jackie Robinson got the call. He was to debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers at home in Ebbets Field, on April 15th. A sharecropper's son born into the deep South was set to become a face of the Civil Rights movement and a pivotal figure in modern American history. On hand that day was another, albeit far less notable, figure, also making his initial appearance in the Major Leagues. Artie Gore was then (39) years old and had toiled for (10) long years as an umpire in several Minor Leagues following a brief (2) year stint as a player himself. Called up for the 1947 season, Gore joined veterans Babe Pinelli and Al Barlick for his first assignment. He was to tend third base on April 15, 1947 at Ebbets Field. Eventually Gore would officiate in more than 1,400 Big League games including All-Star Games in 1949 and 1956 and the World Series in 1951 and 1953. None would carry even an ounce of the import of his first; the same in which Robinson made his historic debut. An affable and well liked man, Gore's ascent to the role of full time National League umpire was much heralded by those with whom he was close. In a scrapbook assembled full of well wishes sent upon his appointment to the NL (included) are housed a good number of cards, letters, and telegrams sent offering congratulations from friends and fans. Additional material in the book references a friendship dinner thrown in his honor in early 1947. Most notable are handwritten letters from umpires Bill Stewart and Bill Summers and telegram from long time AL President Joe Cronin. A copy of his 1947 contract is also included, signed by Ford Frick (not signed by Gore as it was intended to be held for his files). Mentioned numerous times throughout the scrapbook, clearly in recognition of the sacrifices which she had made in allowing Gore to work such a professional occupation, is his wife Millie. As a memento of his debut, Gore was presented with a baseball to in turn pass along to his wife, signed and inscribed on the side panel by fellow umpire Al Barlick, "To Millie" (from Al Barlick). In addition, it has been signed by Pinelli ("Babe Pinelli") below whom Gore himself added - "Arthur." The game score is written across sweet spot and panel below reads, "Opening game Brooklyn + Boston, 15, April - 1947." Spalding brand Ford C. Frick Official National League baseball displays mild even toning with light scattered surface wear accentuated by a small abrasion spot below side panel inscription. As fate would have it that shared date of April 15th did not represent the first meeting of Gore and Robinson. Gore was officiating in the International League in 1946 and by incredible coincidence was behind home plate when Robinson debuted in the Minor Leagues with Montreal. An image was snapped of Jackie crossing home plate after hitting a home run and Artie Gore was in the background. Additional personal scrapbook contains numerous newsprint clippings of the photo taped in and an original approximately 8"x10" copy which is loose (VG w/photographers mask applied, date/wire service stamped on back). Evidencing a lifelong relationship which spanned the mid-1940s through retirement, included is a sepia toned 8"x10" portrait of Robinson which has been signed and inscribed, -To Artie Gore with best wishes. It has been wonderful knowing you. We broke in together. You know as well as anyone the many thrills we had. Best Always Jackie Robinson+ (fountain pen rating 7 to 7/8 out of 10, very light wear and mild toning). Likely sent in response to condolences Gore had offered following the death of Jackie Robinson Jr. is an October 26, 1971 typed letter which It has been signed -Jackie.+ A Handwritten note at lower left reads "your letter was greatly appreciated. I don+t know anyone I respect more as an umpire and man. I am sure we disagreed many times but they were certainly disagreements with respect. J. R." (marker rating 8/9 out of 10, typical mailing folds). Although unclear as to which facet this baseball was used within the game its very presence on the field of play on that historic date presents us with one of the most significant relics to have surfaced of its type. It has long been customary for umpires to sign and retain baseballs from important events however these are typically limited to World Series and All-Star Games. With no bats, gloves, or jerseys to retain hold of, game balls are the sole tangible piece with which an umpire comes into contact that represents the game and it is fitting that they are retained as trophy pieces. It is not at all surprising that Gore and in turn his wife Millie would have been bestowed with a ball that represented the sum total of their (10) years of sacrifice. Significant offering includes: April 15, 1947 game ball, Gore+s personal file copy of his 1947 contract, pair of scrapbooks, additional Robinson photo in Montreal, Robinson signed 8"x10" and signed typed letter, auction LOA from JSA (autographs), and letter of provenance from the family of Artie Gore: Range EX-NM

Estimated Price Range: ($10,000-$30,000)

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