Jackie Robinson is all the rage this week — the feature film 42 about his life hits theaters tomorrow, and Monday is “Jackie Robinson Day” across baseball, with players all donning his uniform number in a celebration of one of the most important figures in American history.
For collectors, an authentic Robinson piece can be hard to come by. After all, Robinson last played in 1956, stayed mostly away from the game for most of the rest of his life, and passed away in 1972, years before the memorabilia craze sent other legends like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays into rooms full of bats, balls and caps to sign until their hands ached.
So when the last glove used by Robinson, authenticated as worn in the 1955 and 1956 World Series, was discovered, it was hailed as of the “Holy Grail”-type items. Now the “priceless” will get a price, as Steiner Sports Memorabilia conducts an auction beginning on May 1 and continuing through June 2.
“This rare gem is the only Jackie Robinson glove known to exist,” said Dennis Esken, one of the leading and most well-respected authenticators in the industry. “It was discovered in NYC tucked away in a garage, wrapped in plastic.”
A baseball bat used by Robinson was also discovered, and will also go on the Steiner auction block, along with hundreds of baseball, basketball and football artifacts which will be announced at a later date.
But the glove is the “wow” piece of the set, and what has Esken and Steiner Sports executive vice president Brett Schissler so excited.
“The glove shows extensive wear and aging on the leather attributed to three years of use,” added Esken. The photo match and the ability to see the Rawlings labels aided me in getting the exact date of the glove. One of the highlights in this BD model glove is Jackie’s iconic jersey number ‘42’ written in black felt tip on the intact wrist strap also, signifying that this glove belonged to him as proven by the ‘42’ pictured in the photo match.”
“The Robinson glove is the rarest piece of memorabilia sold at auction by Steiner,” noted Schissler. “It is sure to spark spirited bidding by collectors.”