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Lot # 263 (of 873)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1937 Ciudad Trujillo Team Large Format Presentation Display Photograph

Starting Bid - $5,000.00, Sold For - $12,650.00

Extraordinary large format presentation display photograph of the legendary Ciudad Trujillo team measures an incredible 13 ½ x 24 ½ inches. Satchel Paige sits to the right in the middle row. Josh Gibson is in the back row, far left. "Cool Papa" Bell sits front, center. Some consider the 1927 Yankees, the 1955 Dodgers, or the 1961 Yankees to be the greatest team of all time. But to many baseball historians, this honor of great distinction belongs to the 1937 Ciudad Trujillo team of the Dominican Republic League, sponsored by Dictator Rafael Trujillo. The story of the team is also one of baseball history's most fascinating. Baseball had long been the National Pastime of the Dominican Republic when, in 1937, Dictator Trujillo decided that he would sponsor a team to win the Championship of the Dominican Baseball League, to beat the teams owned by his political opponents, and increase his popularity with the people, and his hold on the country. Trujillo took control of two teams, which he merged to create a single powerhouse team which he named the "Cuidad Trujillo Dragons." As the season progressed, the Ciudad Trujillo team soon found themselves locked in a bitter struggle for the Championship of the Dominican League with the Santiago team, led by the great Martin DiHigo. To remedy the situation, Trujillo sent his henchmen to the U.S. with $30,000 and instructions to recruit the best Negro League players in the United States to add to the already very talented Ciudad roster to help them secure the championship. Armed with this incredible sum, Trujillo's agents were able to persuade Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, James "Cool Papa" Bell, Sam Bankhead, Bob Griffith, Leroy Matlock, Cy Perkins, and Harry Williams (most from the Pittsburgh Crawfords, the powerhouse team of the Negro National League) to join an already very talented team that included Perucho Cepeda (Orlando's father), Lazaro Salazar, who managed the team, and Sylvio Garcia. They won the title in a tense finale. The night before the final game, according to interviews with pitcher Chet Brewer, Trujillo actually put the players in jail for the night so that they could not be disturbed, or get into any trouble. Legend has it that Trujillo's players were under armed guard, and were "instructed" to win at all costs. The American players literally feared for their lives if they were not successful. When the players arrived at the stadium for the seventh and deciding game of the championship series, they found Trujillo's troops lined up with rifles and bayonets along the first base side of the field. According to Satchel Paige, the team was given a "pep talk" by the manager, in which they were told, very simply, that "you had better win." When Paige inquired exactly what this meant, he was told "I mean just that. Take my advice and win." Fortunately, Bankhead's grand slam over DiHigo won the title, and the players took the first opportunity they were given to get on a Pan Am Clipper and leave the Dominican Republic as quickly as possible. The successful raiding of the Crawford's star players, unfortunately, was directly responsible for the decline of the Pittsburgh Crawford's franchise. The players signed with Trujillo just before the start of the 1937 Negro National League season. The Crawfords, in 1936 one of the most powerful teams ever assembled, limped through the 1937 season, and the entire franchise folded within the year. Each Ciudad Trujillo Dragon team player apparently received one of these giant presentation display photographs, but this is the only surviving example known to exist. In fact, we have been able to locate only two other original team photograph of the 1937 Ciudad Trujillo team, both approximately 8 x 10 inch examples. To the best of our knowledge, this is the only large format display photograph of the 1937 Ciudad Trujillo Team known to exist. This photo originates directly from the family of Trujillo shortstop Sylvio Garcia. While it is not immediately apparent, when Jeff Eastland acquired this presentation display photograph there was some water damage to the very far right of the photograph, affecting the two far right players. This damage was the result of being stored in the Garcia family's basement, with this far right side on the ground. The photograph was sent to a top quality professional restorer, both for preservation and to restore the affected area. The work is extraordinary and can only be detected upon close inspection, and does not detract from the otherwise Near Mint appearance of this historic large format display photograph. The legends of very few teams are as rich in history, significance and folklore as the 1937 Ciudad Trujillo team. One of the highlights of the Jeff Eastland Collection. This is a majestic photograph. In terms of size, contrast, clarity, quality, and significance as a presentation display given by the team to the players, this is by far the finest of the very few surviving photographs of this legendary team. Few baseball photographs have a more fascinating story to tell, and are more deserving of museum display. Photographers credit ("Foto Aybar") and team identification "Ciud Trijullo" in lower right. Beautifully matted and framed to dimensions of 28 x 20 inches. Reserve $5,000. Estimate $10,000/$15,000. SOLD FOR $12,650.00

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