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1937 Original Josh Gibson Ciudad Trujillo Live-Action Batting Photo
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $2,370
Original action photo of Josh Gibson at the plate as a member of Ciudad Trujillo in 1937. This is the only Josh Gibson photo picturing him at the plate that we can ever recall seeing. While there are many photos of Josh Gibson in the hobby, nearly all picture him in either team or group photos. Original photos of Gibson alone are exceedingly rare, let alone an example of him batting. This photo also has a unique provenance: It originates from the family of Lazaro Salazar, a teammate of Gibson on the 1937 Ciudad Trujillo club, and was originally offered in a collection of seven vintage Negro League photos that appeared as Lot 299 in REA's May 2004 auction. Six of the photos in that lot were obtained from Salazar's family, with the offered Gibson photo the primary highlight from the group. Salazar was one of the top players of his day and is a member of both the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame and the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame.
The photo (7 x 5 inches), taken from the perspective of the grandstand on the first-base side of the field, pictures Gibson in his follow-through swing just after hitting the ball. From the reaction of Gibson, the catcher, the umpire, and the third-base coach, the ball appears to have been a deep drive in the air, perhaps one of Gibson's legendary "tape measure" home runs. Both a portion of the grandstand and the third-base dugout are also visible. Two vintage pencil notations on the reverse read "C. Trujillo" and "1937," respectively. Also appearing on the reverse, stamped a number of times, are the words "Agfa Brovira," which was the name of the company that produced the photographic paper. According to Paul Messier, in an article on dating photographic paper that is posted on his website (http://paulmessier.com/pm/pdf/papers/notes_on_dating.pdf) the "Agfa Brovira" stamp conclusively dates the photo as having been printed prior to the late 1950s (no more narrowly defined time period can be ascertained). Gibson, along with Satchell Paige and "Cool Papa" Bell broke their contracts with the Pittsburgh Crawfords in 1937 to play for Ciudad Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. The team was owned by the country's dictator, Rafael Trujillo, who stacked the roster with the best talent money could buy. The team won the championship that year, with Gibson leading the league in a number of batting categories, and the following season all of the players returned to the United States to continue their careers in the Negro Leagues. As such, this is a rare photo capturing Gibson during his one season with the Ciudad Trujillo club in 1937. The photo displays minor surface loss along the bottom border, as well as minor corner and edge wear; but the central image area is free of any noticeable flaws and displays an Excellent to Mint appearance. This is a rare and significant Josh Gibson photo of outstanding quality and detail. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000. SOLD FOR $2,370
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