1937 CIUDAD TRUJILLO BASEBALL TEAM PHOTO WITH HOF'ERS SATCHEL PAIGE, JOSH GIBSON AND COOL PAPA BELL.
5x8" vintage high quality matte finish photo on "Agfa Brovira" paper with embossed border. Incredible team image of 16 players in uniforms on ball field with spectators in the background. The three key players are standing in the back row: third from left is Cool Papa Bell, fifth from left is Josh Gibson and at end of the row is Satchel Paige. Kneeling in the front are Cuban HOF members Lazaro Salazar and Silvio Garcia, both have their names neatly inked on image, an "X" added to the hat of Salazar. Other key members pictured here from this international squad are: (Back Row L-R) - Cy Perkins, Enrique Latiqua,Toni Castano, Rodolfo Fernandez and Bob Griffith. (Front Row L-R) - Tetelo Vargas, S. Alvarado, Sam Bankhead, Harry Williams and Perucho Cepeda.
The Ciudad Trujillo ball club was organized by dictator, Rafael Trujillo, who dedicated the 1937 Dominican Baseball League season to his re-election with two rival teams from Santo Domingo merging together for that season only. They raided the Negro Leagues, bringing $30,000 in cash to the states as enticement, to ensure victory and this team won the Caribbean championship series with Las Aguilas de Vera Cruz. After the season, the league collapsed and the Negro Leaguers returned to the U.S. and Trujillo was ousted. The short-lived team was one of the most notable in Dominican League history.
Satchel Paige would be the first of the Hall of Fame trio to join Los Dragones. Like many of the other Negro League stars that would join this club, Satchel spent the early part of his career playing for the powerhouse, Pittsburgh Crawfords team during the early 1930s, where he was surrounded with unprecedented talent, including Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Oscar Charleston and Judy Johnson. During the late 1930s, Satchel would go on to star for the Kansas City Monarchs, making up one half of the greatest pitching duo in Negro League history along with Hilton Smith. Paige would eventually make it all the way to the Major Leagues in 1948 with Bill Veeck's Cleveland Indians and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.
Cool Papa Bell and Josh Gibson would join the Ciudad Trujillo ball club midway through the 1937 season, in time for the playoffs and championship game. Bell was widely regarded as the fastest man in professional baseball, starring for the St. Louis Stars early in his career and later for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays. At the same time, Josh Gibson was terrorizing Negro League pitching as the "Black Babe Ruth". Historians have credited Gibson with over 800 career home runs, playing primarily for the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays in the Negro Leagues. Josh was elected to Cooperstown in 1972, two years earlier than Bell's 1974 selection.
Photo has just some light aging and corner tip wear with small and faint clear glue stain on both right corner tips. Image remains strong and distinct. VF.
This is one of just two full team photos picturing this ball club from the famed Richard Merkin collection, having sold previously back in July, 2012 for $19.607. The other, a studio shot of the team, sold in our Nov. 2011 auction for $31,625. This photo showing them in their baseball environment is equally impressive and an important, historic artifact for one of the baseball's greatest teams ever. Black Ball Collection.