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1947 Santurce Team-Signed Composite Photo with Willard Brown
Starting Bid - $200, Sold For - $1,200
Team-signed composite photo of the 1947 Cangrejeros de Santurce baseball team of the Puerto Rico Baseball League, featuring the signatures of twenty-eight team members, the most notable of whom is Hall of Famer Willard Brown. Brown has signed the composite in black ink directly above his image. Because all of the individual player photos are small, the players, Brown included, were forced to minimize the size of their signatures to fit the space. While somewhat "cramped," Brown's signature remains legible and grades "6" overall. Included among the other signatures (averaging "5") are those of Ruben Gomez, Fernando Ramos, Robert Thurman, Luis Cabrera, and Pablo Andino. In addition to the player photos, the composite includes a team photo along the base.
Willard Brown enjoyed the reputation as one of the most feared sluggers in Negro League history. Perhaps the greatest testament to his hitting prowess is the fact that Josh Gibson himself bestowed Brown with the nickname “Home Run.” Brown starred with the Monarchs for fourteen seasons between the years 1935 and 1951 (he missed time due to military service, and one year was spent in the Mexican League), leading the club to six pennants. He was equally successful in the Puerto Rican League, where he was known as "Esse Hombre." Brown had a lifetime .350 average for Santurce during his ten seasons in the league (spanning the years 1941 and 1957), where he led the league in hitting and home runs on three separate occasions. In 1947 Brown followed in the footsteps of Jackie Robinson and briefly joined the St. Louis Browns. Although he only played in twenty-one games with the Browns, he became the first black player to hit a home run in the American League. He later returned to the Negro Leagues and then finished his career in the minors, playing with a number of clubs in the Texas League. Brown was one of seventeen Negro League players elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006 by special election, ten years after his death. As a result, his signature is particularly scarce today. This is one of only four Willard Brown signature examples we have ever offered. The photo (7 x 5 inches) displays a heavy diagonal crease (touching upon the Brown signature), a few lesser creases, a corner chip in the upper right, and an irregularly shaped stain along the right border. In Good condition overall. Auction LOA from James Spence/JSA.
Reserve $200. Estimate $400+. SOLD FOR $1,200
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