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Thread: 1953 Jackie Robinson "Major League All-Stars" Barnstorming Tour

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    1953 Jackie Robinson "Major League All-Stars" Barnstorming Tour

    I posted about winning this ball in the pickups thread, but doing some research I was able to learn a lot more, and thought people might find it interesting.

    For decades, baseball players would supplement their income by doing barnstorming tours. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig did tours and they ran for decades. Negro League teams and players often did tours. It was a chance for them to play against white teams (and at times with white players, even before integration), a chance to bring baseball to cities that did not have their own team, and a chance to make some extra money.

    When Jackie Robinson played in the Majors, he used to lead a tour in the off-season. Initially the teams that Jackie lead were comprised of only Negro League players, but in 1953, he added some white players including teammate Gil Hodges. Others on the team included Maury Wills (who was in the Minors and would not make the Majors for half a decade.)

    Maybe the most fascinating signature on the ball comes from Spec Bebop. Bebop was a midget performer who toured with the Indianapolis Clowns. While baseball as we know it today is serious business, in the Negro Leagues, baseball was viewed more as another form of entertainment, and they often had jugglers and other performers. Bebop was a very popular performer with his co-performer "King Tut." He was listed on the roster playing the position ENT (entertainer).

    As mentioned, the tour was the first for Jackie that featured white players on the team. Interestingly, the tour had some controversy when they were in Birmingham, Alabama. The team played a game with all the white players on the bench due to a ban on blacks and whites playing together.

    Also really cool, the ball is an official Negro American League

    Signatures:

    Percy Smith - Pitcher Indianapolis Clowns
    Jackie Robinson - Brooklyn Dodgers 1947-1956
    Gil Hodges - Dodgers 1943-1961
    John Glenn - Dodgers Minor Leaguer 1950-1960
    Luke Easter - Was a part of Jackie's Barnstorming Tour. Homestead Grays 1947-48, Cleveland Indians 1949-1954.
    Bob Young
    Maury Wills - Dodgers 1951-1959 (minors) 1959-1966 (majors)
    Clyde McNeal - Negro and Mexican Leagues 1945-57. Dodgers Minor League 1953-57
    Ralph Branca
    "BeBop" - Spec Bebop - Midget performer
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 1953 Barnstorming - Jackie Robinson 2.jpg   1953 Barnstorming - Jackie Robinson 7.jpg   1953 Barnstorming - Jackie Robinson 5.jpg   1953 Barnstorming - Jackie Robinson 6.jpg   1953 Barnstorming - Jackie Robinson 4.jpg  

    Last edited by Topnotchsy; 03-19-2017 at 03:58 AM.

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    Senior Member fordman's Avatar
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    Great Baseball to own. Great signatures and great background to go with the ball. I dont envy collectors much for their items but this one is to be envied.
    Enjoy it and it looks like a cornerstone piece to any collection.

    Fordman

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    Quote Originally Posted by fordman View Post
    Great Baseball to own. Great signatures and great background to go with the ball. I dont envy collectors much for their items but this one is to be envied.
    Enjoy it and it looks like a cornerstone piece to any collection.

    Fordman
    I appreciate that. Jackie and the integration in general have become a focus of my collection and this definitely fits that and captures a part of baseball history that's basically gone.


    Sent from my iPhone using Freedom Card Board

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    That's awesome! The ball itself is incredible, but the story takes it even further.
    For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 - Questions about this? PM ME!
    Do you have rare Jose Canseco cards? Let me know! www.CansecoCollector.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by mouschi View Post
    That's awesome! The ball itself is incredible, but the story takes it even further.
    Thanks! I've found that these kinds of items provide a mystery to try and crack. I have a few other (particularly WWII baseballs) where I have been unable to figure out where they were signed, so it was really cool to put the pieces together on this one which allowed me to ID everyone on the ball and connect it to a really cool part of baseball history.

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    Senior Member Austin's Avatar
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    That's got to be one of the earliest Maury Wills signatures in existence since it's six years before he made the majors. Awesome ball!
    Set builder, autograph hunter and fan of the Texas Rangers & '50s-'60s Yankees

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    Member finestkind's Avatar
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    Awesome piece and story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Austin View Post
    That's got to be one of the earliest Maury Wills signatures in existence since it's six years before he made the majors. Awesome ball!
    I had not realized how long he was in then Minors for until I researched him for this ball, but you are probably right! Really cool point!

    Quote Originally Posted by finestkind View Post
    Awesome piece and story.
    Thanks!

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    Just realized while looking at some more articles that the player listed as "Ralph Brown" has to be Ralph Branca who was on the team. Signature seems to match up pretty well to a vintage Branca autograph I found online (and. posted for comparison)

    Still a couple of mysteries with this ball, but with continued research I hope to be able to solve them...

    If anyone knows anything about dating a baseball itself or knows about the history of Rawlings baseballs, please pm me. I have a couple of questions. Thanks!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 1953 Barnstorming - Jackie Robinson 6.jpg   Program with Branca and Robinson signatures from 1948.jpg  

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    Recently was able to pick up a program from the tour which pairs nicely with the baseball.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails 18219_jackie_robinson_barnstorming.jpg   18219a_jackie_robinson_barnstorming.jpg   18219b_jackie_robinson_barnstorming.jpg  

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    Senior Member RStadlerASU22's Avatar
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    Just came across this thread, great pieces.

    Ryan
    Will Clark / Mike Brown Collector
    ALWAYS LOOKING FOR ODDBALL, REGIONAL, TEAM ISSUED, VARIATIONS, AND TOUGH CARDS OF WILL CLARK AND MIKE BROWN



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