Winter 2014 Auction Closing Feb 7
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 2/8/2014

On Sunday April 29th, 1956, a proud father took his young son to Ebbets Field to see his very first baseball game. It's a time-honored tradition likely beginning during the infancy of professional baseball, and this American rite of passage has seamlessly transitioned through today. This particular boy, named Walter, was reeling in bliss anticipating seeing his favorite team and defending World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers take on the Pittsburgh Pirates that afternoon.


What was so special, so extraordinary about that day in 1956 was what happened during the first game. During the 7th inning stretch, Walter's father guided him down to the first row of seats behind the Dodgers dugout. There, waiting just for them, stood Walter's hero: Jackie Robinson. Shocked to say the least, the boy shook the hand of the man who integrated the game less than 10 years before and listened intently as Jackie imparted a few words of philosophical advice. With the game ready to resume, Jackie handed Walter a personalized photograph and one of his game used bats. As Walter sat clutching his hero's bat, he watched as Robinson walked up to the plate later that inning and launched a Bob Friend fastball into the stands for a home run. Though his beloved Dodgers dropped both games to the Pirates that afternoon, the bat and memories he received from one of history's greatest men lasted a lifetime.


In the stands that day at Ebbets Field, there were most likely many fathers taking their sons to their first ballgame, but Walter wasn't just any ordinary boy and his father wasn't just any father. Walter is Walter Blount III, son of Walter Blount, Jr., who founded the Nyack, NY chapter of the NAACP in 1928. Like Jackie Robinson, the pursuit of racial equality ran through the Blount's blood, and his dogged pursuance of racial equality manifested itself in his son Walter Blount, Jr. After devoting five years of his life fighting for his country, Walter Jr. challenged the American Legion's racial policy when he was denied admittance to his local Legion post. It was Blount's close family connections with the early civil rights movement that made his son's unforgettable meeting with Jackie Robinson possible.


Goldin Auctions is honored to be able to offer the game used bat Jackie Robinson presented to Walter Blount III that afternoon at Ebbets Field, along with the signed personalized photograph. Both these family heirlooms have been in the Blount family since 1956 and this is the first time either item has been offered.


The bat displays awesome game use and is uncracked. Slight checking (the swelling of the grain) is visible and many ball marks and stitch impressions mark the barrel, attesting to its tremendous use. The knob is engraved with the model number "R115", and a light coat of pine tar is still visible on the handle. The bat's standard ash finish looks clean and fresh, like it was presented to young Walter only yesterday. Company records show that Jackie used the Hillerich & Bradsby R115 model during the 1955 and 1956 seasons and two of his seven orders of R115's correspond to the 34.1 oz weight and 35 inch size of this bat.


What is most remarkable about this gorgeous piece of history is that Robinson's famous number "42" is written on the knob end. Very few of Robinson's bats were marked with his number (only 4 of the 17 known Robinson bats) and to find an example such as this with such a solid provenance almost never occurs. That the "42" is written in black paint is important as it is a "team characteristic" attributable only to the Brooklyn Dodgers.


Also included is the personalized photograph Jackie gave to Walter Blount III that afternoon. The black and white 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" postcard has a photo of Robinson in the Dodgers' dugout, the same image that was used to promote Old Gold Cigarettes in 1948. Robinson has signed the front in blue ballpoint, "To Walter Blount III Best Wishes Jackie Robinson" (7/10). This postcard appears to be hand-cut and shows some staining and wear, with tape residue remaining on both the left and right sides. The reverse has a standard postcard back and paper residue is present where it was removed from an album.


It goes without saying that any game used bat attributed to the games most important post-war figure is exceedingly rare and highly desirable. To find one with such outstanding characteristics like his "42" hand written on the knob with such a rock-solid provenance as this one does is an opportunity that comes around but once in a lifetime. A Letter of Authenticity from PSA/DNA also accompanies this item, who have awarded this piece of American history a perfect score of GU 10.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $40,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $158,815.00
Number Bids: 15
Auction closed on Saturday, February 8, 2014.
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