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Lot # 1279 (of 1743)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1936 Satchel Paige Pittsburgh Crawfords Original News Photo

Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,410

This remarkable original 1936 news photo represents one of the earliest photos in existence picturing Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige, alone, in uniform (earlier team photos featuring Paige are known). It is also one of the most interesting Satchel Paige photos from any era. The photo captures Paige warming up on the field prior to a game as a member of the legendary Pittsburgh Crawfords. This is the first original photograph we have ever seen or offered featuring Paige alone from his days with the Pittsbugh Crawfords. Of extraordinary note, and indicative of the economics of Negro League ball at the time, Paige's left shoe is so badly worn that his toes are sticking out of the front end. The fact that the Crawfords could not supply their star pitcher Satchel Paige, with proper footwear may say more about the nature of life in the Negro Leagues at this time than any text could possibly provide. It may also help explain why there are so few surviving images of Pittsburg Crawfords players dating from the Depression years. Photographs cost money. If his badly worn cleat were bothering Paige, one would never know by the expression on his face, as his sly grin seems to indicate that he is without a care in the world at the moment. The reverse markings are comprised of the following: a handwritten editorial notation in pencil that reads "1 Col Sport Page to run Sat. - Satchel Paige"; a red "City Edition" stamp; and a tiny portion of the original newspaper clipping of this image that is date stamped "Aug 22 1936." The "City Edition" stamp is particularly noteworthy. During that era, Negro League games were not widely reported by the major news services, and accounts of the games normally only appeared in the city editions of the respective teams' local newspapers. Given Paige's extremely youthful appearance here, it would not surprise us to learn that this photo was taken some years earlier, and that the date stamp was referring to a subsequent printing in the paper. Paige would have been thirty years old in 1936 by most accounts, although his exact age was always something of a mystery. Regardless of its exact year, the photo can only date from the short six-year span 1931-1936, which marked the time between the year the Crawfords were founded and the date stamped on the photo. Paige was a member of the Crawfords during each of those seasons, and it was during his brief tenure with the club that he enjoyed his greatest popularity. Much of the fanfare Paige received was probably due to the company he kept. Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee was responsible for assembling perhaps the greatest aggregate of talent in Negro League history during that era. In addition to Paige, the club also included at various times Josh Gibson, "Cool Papa" Bell, Jud Wilson, Oscar Charleston, and Judy Johnson. However, even among that array of talent, fans still flocked to the ballpark just to see Paige pitch and he was the Negro League's number-one gate attraction throughout the decade. This is both an exceedingly rare and historically significant Paige photo, and one that would be a highlight of even the most advanced Negro League collection. The photo (8 x 10 inches) displays a number of minor flaws common to all working press photos, including light editorial cropping marks and notations, some minor rippling, and a staple hole in the upper left border. In Excellent condition overall. Reserve $500. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $1,410

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