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Lot # 571 (of 873)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

1926 Burleigh Grimes Brooklyn Dodgers Complete Game-Used Uniform

Starting Bid - $10,000.00, Sold For - $31,625.00

Extraordinary 1926 Brooklyn Dodgers Home uniform, including both shirt and pants, of legendary spitballer and Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes. All Major League baseball uniforms dating from the 1920s or earlier are exceedingly rare. Complete uniforms from any team, let alone a team as popular and collected as the Brooklyn Dodgers, are rarer still. Hall of Famers are virtually nonexistent. This 1926 Brooklyn Dodgers home pinstripe uniform manufactured by A. G. Spalding & Bros. is an extremely rare style, one of only a handful of 1920s Brooklyn Dodgers uniforms in existence. After much research, to the best of our knowledge, this is the only uniform known to exist of Burleigh Grimes. Grimes is one of the very few Hall of Famers which even the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown does not have in its near complete collection of Hall of Famer uniforms. Burleigh Grimes was the last of the spitball pitchers. The spitball. The application of some foreign substance, usually "slippery elm," tobacco juice, or saliva, to a baseball by the pitcher before pitching, for the purpose of altering its natural course, and thus making the pitch, when thrown by an expert in this specialty, more difficult to hit. In the early part of the century, the spitball was a standard and legal part of many pitchers' repertoires. A few specialized in throwing the spitball, to the exclusion of all other pitches, not unlike a knuckleballer might specialize in throwing only the knuckleball. In 1919, plans were underway to outlaw the spitball. Following the 1919 season, the American League declared that each team may name two pitchers who would be allowed to use the spitball for just one more season, after which it would be banned forever; and the National League declared that each NL club must name all its spitball pitchers, and that only these declared pitchers would be permitted to use the spitball during the upcoming 1920 season, after which it would be permanently banned from use in the National League as well. This one-year window of continued use was very controversial, as some Major League pitchers relied exclusively, or almost exclusively, on the spitball. To outlaw the tool of their trade was the equivalent of denying them their future careers, and their right to continue to earn a living playing ball. In recognition of this, following the 1920 season, both leagues voted on a special resolution, which permitted the continued use of the spitball, but only by currently active major leaguers who were formally registered by their ball clubs as spitball pitchers. Seventeen pitchers were "grandfathered in" under the newly modified rules, allowing them to throw the spitball indefinitely, but prohibiting the use of the pitch by anyone else, and by new Major League pitchers in the future, thereby setting the stage for the phasing out of the spitball pitch in the major leagues entirely. The premier practitioner of the spitball pitching trade was Burleigh Grimes. During a career which spanned 19 seasons, he registered 270 victories, more than any other spitball pitcher, and led the league in virtually every significant pitching category (wins, won-loss percentage, games pitched, complete games, innings pitched, strike outs, and shutouts) at least once during his career. Grimes helped lead his team to four championship pennants. Because his major league career started only a few years prior to the rule changes of 1920, Grimes was a relatively young 26 years old when the new spitball rules were adopted. Grimes continued to ply his trade in the majors, primarily for Brooklyn but later with other teams as well, until he was the very last surviving spitball pitcher in the major leagues, the only pitcher in the game still armed with the spitball - appearing in games like a ghost from the deadball era, until he finally hung up his spikes for good following the 1934 season, the last and greatest of all the old-time spitball pitchers. This is an extraordinary uniform. It is far more than an extremely rare uniform style from the 1920s, more than a possibly unique 1926 Brooklyn Dodgers complete uniform, more than a rare and early Hall of Famer jersey and pants. This is a uniform with a story, the story of the spitball, and the story of the spitball's greatest practitioner. Few uniforms can claim such a significance and rarity on so many counts, and few uniforms present a story of such fascination and intrigue, so unique to the history of the game. In a world where a 1922 Chicago Cubs uniform of Bernie Friberg (Bernie Friberg?!?) sold at auction last year for $26,000+, placing an estimated value on this uniform is difficult, but fortunately the market will ultimately decide. This uniform is new to the marketplace, has never been offered at auction before, and its provenance can be traced back directly to Burleigh Grimes, who gave it as a gift to a family friend. The matching jersey and pants, both with blue and red piping, are 100% complete and original (with the possible exception of a couple of period button replacements), with all manufacturer (Spalding) labels intact. "Grimes" is chain stitched in the collar of the jersey and in waistband of pants. Some general wear from use, overall Excellent condition. LOA from David Bushing & Dan Knoll/SCD Authentic. Reserve $10,000. Estimate $20,000/$40,000. SOLD FOR $31,625.00


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