Negro Leagues Shine Again at Auction Rosemary McKittrick writes about art, antiques and collectibles for newspapers and magazines around the world. Visit LiveAuctionTalk.com. Sign up for a free weekly subscription.
News-Antique.com - May 22,2008 - Santa Fe, May 22, 2008 -- Even though they were segregated, playing baseball in the Negro Leagues was a big deal for Black men in America after the Civil War. They loved the game and wanted a chance to play like everyone else.
The Negro Leagues were a way to make it happen.
Black leagues ran parallel to white leagues. They were traveling men who took to the road every spring going from town to town.
They laughed, joked and sang on the bus. They shook hands, smacked backs and signed autographs just like white players. They were also heroes to their fans.
Their salaries were lower than their white counterparts, but Negro League players still made more than most of the people who came and watched them play.
And when they beat white teams, which they almost always did, the victories were sweet.
Maybe they were banned from the major leagues, but they demonstrated day after day they belonged there.
None of it mattered. The gentlemanís agreement, the color line, kept them from playing for the most part from 1898 to 1946. They were separate and unequal.
Some said Blacks were banned from the white domain of Major League Baseball not so much because of color, but because they were better players.
The Negro Leagues peaked around 1946, the same year Jackie Robinson finally broke the color barrier.
Memorabilia from the Negro Leagues is understandably scarce. Thatís why old photos, score cards, baseballs, programs and tickets command interest now.
On March 7, Hunt Auctions, in Exton, Pa., featured a selection of Negro League items in its Sports Memorabilia and Cards auction.
A Negro league baseball including the signatures of Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Larry Doby, and Don Newcombe sold for $20,700.
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