By Frederick H. Lowe
A padded baseball cap Jackie Robinson wore for protection from 90-miles per hour baseballs deliberately thrown at his head by opposing pitchers during his first two years in the majors has been sold for $590,994 during an auction.
Lelands. com, an auction house based in Bohemia, N.Y., announced the cap’s sale on October 28 to an undisclosed buyer. The Dodger blue cap comes with a letter from Rachel Robinson, Jackie Robinson’s widow. He died at age 53 from diabetes on October 24, 1972.
Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player in the modern era to enter the major leagues after the Brooklyn Dodgers signed him in 1947. He wasn’t welcomed.
Ben Chapman, Philadelphia Phillies manager, and the team’s players, called Robinson a ‘nigger’ and suggested that he ‘go back to the cotton fields.’ Robinson, who grew up in Pasadena, California, said he almost lost control and went after Chapman during a game min Brooklyn.
Lee “Jeep” Handley, who played for the Phillies at the time, however, wished Robinson well. Last year, the City of Philadelphia apologized for the Phillies’ treatment of Robinson.
The specially made hat was designed by Spalding, which also manufactured the first major league baseball. The cap was comprised of three protective plates sewn inside the lining to safeguard Robinson from beanballs. Major League Baseball made helmets mandatory in 1971, although some players wore them in the early 1940s, according to Baseball’s Reference Guide.
The cap bears a gold-stitched “B” for Brooklyn.
During his 1947 rookie season with the Dodgers, Robinson batted .297 with 12 home runs. Two years later, he was named the National League’s most valuable player.