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Lot # 478 (of 1525)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Historic 1947 Dan Bankhead Brooklyn Dodgers Contract, First Black Major League Pitcher

Starting Bid - $500.00, Sold For - $1,856.00

Presented is the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers official player contract of Dan Bankhead, signing him as the very first black pitcher in Major League history. With the signing of this contract, Negro League star Dan Bankhead became one of the first five black players who played baseball in the Major Leagues during the historic 1947 season, joining Jackie Robinson on the Dodgers roster. Prior to signing with the Dodgers, Bankhead was the star pitcher of the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League. He was often compared to Bob Feller, and was also an outstanding hitter, boasting a .385 average. On August 26, 1947 Bankhead took the mound for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Ebbets Field to become the very first black pitcher in Major League history. He was hit hard, allowing ten hits in 3-1/3 innings, but he hit a home run off of Fritz Ostermuellier in his first time at bat, becoming the first National League pitcher to ever accomplish that feat. Bankhead pitched in only four games for the Dodgers before being sent down to the minors until 1950. He eventually pitched in a total of fifty-two Major League games. The contract calls for Bankhead to receive the sum of $5,000 for the season. It is fully executed, signed by both "Dan R. Bankhead" ("10") and "Branch Rickey" ("10") in black ink. It is extremely interesting to note that the contract is actually dated August 26, 1947, and was signed earlier on the very same day Bankhead first appeared in a Major League game. The contract has normal folds and a small stain along the left edge, which is mentioned strictly for the sake of accuracy; it is otherwise in Vg-Ex to Excellent condition. Though Jackie Robinson understandably receives all the attention for his great achievements in 1947, there were five black pioneers who played Major League baseball in 1947. In addition to Robinson and Bankhead, the three other black players in the majors were Larry Doby, Hank Thompson, and Willard Brown. This contract, originating from the Bankhead family, is an extremely significant document relating to the breaking of baseball's color barrier, and it is the only contract dating from 1947 for any of these players that we have ever seen at auction. LOAs from Mike Gutierrez/GAI and James Spence & Steve Grad/PSA DNA. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000. SOLD FOR $1,856.00

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