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Lot # 948 (of 1389)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1897 Cleveland Indians Composite Pinback with Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, and Bobby Wallace

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $4,200

Exceedingly rare team-composite pinback featuring the 1897 Cleveland Indians. This is an extraordinary rarity. In fact, this is the only example of this incredible pin that we have ever seen. The pin features portrait images of thirteen uniformed team members, including future Hall of Famers Cy Young, Jesse Burkett, and Bobby Wallace, as well as Chief Zimmer, Patsy Tebeau, Cupid Childs, Ed McKean, and Jack O'Connor. The text along the top and bottom reads "The Indians 1897" and "The Cleveland Ball Club/Published by D. Lane/Cleveland. O." This pin is all the more notable for its usage of the word "Indians" in describing the Cleveland ball club. Cleveland was known as the "Spiders" at the time, but in 1897 the club welcomed outfielder Louis "Chief" Sockalexis, a native American Indian, to its roster. Sockalexis (who, surprisingly, is not pictured on the pin) was one of the most talented players of his time and appeared in sixty-six games with the Cleveland Spiders in 1897. He finished the season with a .338 average and regularly wowed the crowds with his spectacular defensive abilities in the outfield and his daring on the base paths. As Sockalexis' popularity increased, fans began referring to the club as the "Indians" in his honor. Unfortunately, Sockalexis' Major League career ended just as it started. An ankle injury that season, combined with all-too-frequent drinking binges, ruined what was sure to be an outstanding pro career. Just two seasons later, after his appearances at the local taverns became much more frequent than his appearances at the ballpark, Cleveland released him. He never played in the Major Leagues again. His popularity never waned though, and in 1914, the Cleveland Naps were renamed the Indians in honor of Louis "Chief" Sockalexis. The celluloid pin (1.5 inches in diameter) displays only a minuscule surface emulsion (only visible upon very close inspection) and is otherwise Near Mint in its overall appearance, with bold graphics and crystal-clear player images. One of the finest and most amazing baseball pinbacks (from the nineteenth century or any other era!) that we have ever had the privilege to offer.

SOLD FOR $4,200

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