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Lot # 1271 (of 1866)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1917 Brooklyn Royals Negro-League Team Photo with Louis Santop

Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $6,518

Rare original photo of the 1917 Brooklyn Royal Giants posing together at Ridgewood Park. Eleven team members are pictured here, all of whom are identified (last name only; some with their position listed as well ) in neatly painted white lettering below their respective image: Sykes, Santop, Williams, Earle, Webster, Gatewood, Kindle, Hewitt, Handy, Harvey, and Pugh. The notation "Brooklyn Royals Gts. Season = 1917. NY. Ridgewood Park." is lettered in white along the base of the photo. The Brooklyn Royal Giants were founded in 1905 and reigned as one of the top Eastern clubs in black baseball over the next fifteen seasons. In 1923 they became a charter member of the Eastern Colored League, continuing play for five seasons before dropping out of the league. After a one-year association with the Negro National League in 1933 the club began to suffer financial troubles that ultimately relegated them to secondary status among black ball clubs for the remainder of the decade. Any and all Negro League team photos are rare, especially those dating prior to 1920 and picturing prominent clubs. This one is all the more significant for the fact that it includes Hall of Fame catcher Louis Santop. Nicknamed "Big Bertha" by virtue of his tape-measure home runs, Santop was also commonly referred to as the "black Babe Ruth." Like Ruth, Santop's power made him the greatest drawing card in black baseball at the time and his reported salary of $500 a month reflected his superstar status. He was also an outstanding defensive catcher, known for his strong arm and ability to block the plate.

The photo (9.5 x 7.5 inches), which is affixed to a vintage cardboard mount (11.75 x 9.75 inches), displays what appears to be two very light water stains running horizontally across the player images; however, both are quite unobtrusive and do not detract in the least from its overall Excellent appearance. The mount is in Very Good condition. Accompanying the photo are two vintage Brooklyn Royals Giants pieces that are perfect for display with it. The first is a cut section of the team's letterhead dating from 1912 (8.5 x 3.5 inches; Vg), while the second is what appears to be a game-used baseball from a circa 1909/1910 game between the Brooklyn Royal Giants and the Cuban Giants. The red-and-black stitched ball is hand-lettered "Cuban Giants -3/Royal Giants - 2/At/Washington Park." Affixed to the ball is a vintage newspaper clipping (undated) that recounts the details of a 3-2 victory by the Cuban Giants over the Royal Giants on opening day at Washington Park. The only clue to the date is the mention of Buckner as a member of the Royals. Pitcher Harry Buckner played with the Royal Giants in 1909 and 1910. The ball displays heavy use and is in Good condition overall. There is no documentation or provenance accompanying the ball other than the writing on the ball and the affixed newspaper clipping, but it is a fascinating accompaniment (along with the cut letterhead section) to the primary item in this lot, which is the extraordinary 1917 Brooklyn Royals team photograph. Total: 3 items (photo, letterhead clipping, and baseball). Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $6,518

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