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Circa 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers Cap Attributed to Jackie Robinson
Starting Bid - $1,000, Sold For - $5,925
Addendum: We have been informed that a Net54 poster who is a cap collector has stated that according to his research, this cap with certainty dates precisely “from either the 1955 or 1956 season (give or take a few months”. We only identified the cap as “Circa 1952” as we did not know the precise year, but this collector may very well be correct, and if so, this would be a very desirable plus in the eyes of many collectors (both due to the precise dating as well as the significance of the years, 1955 being the Dodgers World Championship season and 1956 being NL champs and Robinson’s final season).
Offered here is what we strongly believe to be an early 1950s Brooklyn Dodgers cap worn by Jackie Robinson. While the cap is not accompanied by a letter from Robinson or his family, it does have a solid chain of ownership that we find extremely credible, especially in light of the hat's physical characteristics. To begin, this is an authentic pro-model Brooklyn Dodgers cap dating from the early 1950s. The blue wool cap features a white, embroidered "B" on the front. A "Tim McAuliffe" label appears on the leather headband, which also bears a "7 3/8" size stamp and a "Pro/KM/Cap" stamp. Most important, the initials "JR" and Robinson's uniform number, "42," are incised in the headband. This hat originates from the personal collection of Bill Hongach, who was former batboy with the New York Yankees in 1972 and 1973. Through his personal interactions and friendships with the many players he met, Hongach amassed a large collection of game-used garments over the years. This hat has been one of his prized possessions for over forty years. Ideally, Hongach has provided a letter of provenance detailing its history. In full:
This is to certify that this Brooklyn Dodger cap was obtained by me from a clubhouse boy that worked in Ebbets Field during the 1950s. He told me that he obtained several caps from the players and that this Dodger cap came directly from Hall of Fame great Jackie Robinson.
While we have no other direct information regarding this cap, we do know, from an extremely interesting Jackie Robinson letter we offered in our May 2012 auction (Lot #888), that Robinson was very obliging with regard to requests for his game-used caps. In that one-page typed letter, dated August 12, 1957, written on Chock full O' Nuts letterhead, Robinson replied to a fan (Mr. Kenneth E. Crouch) who had requested one of his game-used caps. In full: "Dear Mr. Crouch: I am sorry but I checked and found no caps at all. I sent the one I used last to a fan that requested it some time ago. Sincerely, Jackie Robinson." What that letter shows is that basically all one had to do to obtain one of Robinson's game-used caps was to ask. If Robinson cheerfully gave a game-used cap to a fan who simply wrote to him requesting one, it stands to reason that he would have happily honored a similar request from a clubhouse boy whom he worked with all season. In addition, the cap itself is an ideal circa 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers major league baseball cap. We should note that we found two other Brooklyn Dodgers caps attributed to Jackie Robinson at past auctions. One was a size 71/2 and the other was a size 7. It seems hard to believe that the size 7 cap was worn by Robinson, as that is an extremely small hat size for an adult. Obviously, the 7 1/2 and 7 3/8 size are not only comparable, but very much in line with an adult head size. The hat displays moderate wear throughout, including a cracked brim and light soiling. Given the extreme rarity of Robinson caps, plus the fact that nearly every cap not obtained directly from the player involves a leap of faith with regard to attribution, this circa 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers cap stands as a rare example with extremely credible provenance and one that we strongly feel is most likely exactly what it is purported to be: a Jackie Robinson game-used cap dating from the early 1950s. Reserve $1,000. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $5,925
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