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Winning Bid:
$35,046.00 (Includes 18% Buyer's Premium)
Bidding Ended:
Tuesday, June 29, 2021 9:00:00 PM (20 Minute Clock Begins At Tuesday, June 29, 2021 9:00:00 PM)
Time Left:
Auction #232 Part I
Value Code:
N - $10,000 to $20,000 Help Icon
Item Description
Offered here is one of only two known examples depicting the 1937 Homestead Grays baseball club, at the very beginning of their dynasty, which would continue on until the mid-1940s. At the center of this powerhouse team was all-time Negro League great, Josh Gibson (back row, third from right). At his side were two more future National Baseball Hall of Fame selectees, Buck Leonard (back row, far left) and Raymond Brown (back row, second from right). Other notable stars also pictured are: (Back Row L-R) - Jose Perez, Tom Parker, Jim Williams and Edsall Walker. (Front Row L-R) - Tommy Dukes, Jelly Jackson, Matt Carlisle, Roy Welmaker, Lou Dula, Vic Harris, Arnold Waite and Jerry Benjamin.

The original Homestead Grays baseball club was organized back in 1910. Cumberland Posey, future Hall of Fame owner, would join the Grays team just two years later as a ballplayer in 1912. At that time, Homestead was a steel mill town and workers at the U.S. Steel mill formed a baseball team for weekend recreation. Posey, a former football player and basketball star at Penn State University, was a railway mill worker and joined the steelworkers to play for the team. Soon after Posey got involved with the team, it became a full-time job. Cum would book games every year from 1912-29, against teams around the Pittsburgh area, as the Grays quickly became the top independent ball club in western Pennsylvania. At the dawn of the 1930s, Homestead had become the strongest team in the eastern U.S. thanks to the likes of Josh Gibson, Judy Johnson, Oscar Charleston and Smokey Joe Williams. By the mid-1930s however, the Pittsburgh Crawfords and their high-profile owner, Gus Greenlee, would buy away many of the Grays' best ballplayers and leaving a weakened ball club struggling to compete. By 1937, however, the balance of power in the East had shifted back to the Homestead Grays as they were able to attract Josh Gibson back to join Buck Leonard, Raymond Brown and company.

Josh Gibson's first exposure to baseball came in 1927, when he joined a Pittsburgh sandlot team called the Pleasant Valley Red Sox before joining the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a boys semi-pro ball club later that season. Josh was starring for the Crawfords when he first attracted the attention of the local Homestead Grays. Late in the 1930 season, Gibson would sign his first professional baseball contract with the Grays. Josh would immediately transform a good team into a great team and Homestead would go on to beat the New York Lincoln Giants for that season's championship. After one more season with the Grays in 1931, Gibson would be bought away and joined the Pittsburgh Crawfords beginning in 1932 and remaining there through the 1936 season. Subsequently, Josh would rejoin the Grays beginning in mid-season of 1937 and remain there through his final season of 1946. Gibson would be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

Fellow Hall of Famer, Buck Leonard would begin his long and illustrious Homestead Grays career in 1936, where he would play his entire Negro League baseball career through the 1950 season. Buck would be selected to participate in 11 East-West All-Star Games, an all-time Negro League record. Leonard also spent many off-seasons playing winter ball in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico. Buck was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1972.

Raymond Brown was the third member of the Grays HOF trio, pitching for the ball club from 1932-48. Brown was another who spent many off-seasons playing winter ball, primarily in Mexico and during his later years, Canada. Raymond was one of the most versatile star pitchers in black baseball, utilizing a sinker, slider, fastball along with his best pitch, the overhand curveball. Brown also participated in two East-West All-Star Games with no decisions in either. Brown would be selected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.    

This original glossy oversize photo is 9.75x13". Written across entire top margin, in period ink dating to 1937, is "Negro World Champions-1937" followed by all player names and positions played and additional notation "Won Both Halves Of Negro National League "10 Out Of 11- World Series." At top left are applied vintage newspaper strips (but not contemporary to the photo), added over additional inking at this area, noting the team's pennants through 1945, and partial strip with team name. These were clipped from a c. 1945 paper and applied at that time. The photo itself however, is an original from 1937. Photo long ago was mounted to a thin card stock sheet and the back of that has additional newspaper clippings mounted to it. Photo has trivial margin trim to top/bottom, in no way impacting image. Tack hole at top center. Moderate handling wear mostly only seen in reflected light. 1" piece of yellowed clear tape at lower left corner. Overall VG but remains glossy and with strong images that have great clarity.

Don't pass up this opportunity to acquire one of the rare original images of Josh Gibson during the peak of his career with the Homestead Grays, not to mention the inclusion of all-time great first baseman, Buck Leonard and pitcher, Raymond Brown. The Black Ball Collection.
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