A 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers game-used home jersey belonging to Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella sold Sunday night for $186,000 at Robert Edward Auctions.
A three-time National League MVP, Campanella was considered one of the greatest catchers of his era. He was already a star in the Negro Leagues when Branch Rickey recruited him shortly after Jackie Robinson to join the Dodgers organization. When Buffalo Bisons manager Paul Richards, a former catcher himself, saw Campanella play against his club in the minors, he immediately declared him to be “the best catcher in the business – major or minor leagues.” The Dodgers felt the same way, and in 1948, he was promoted to the parent club, where he helped lead the team to five pennants and one World Championship over the next ten seasons. He was eventually elected to the Hall of Fame in 1969. During the 1950 campaign, Campanella led all National League catchers in home runs (31) and RBI (89). His home run total led all Major League catchers, and his RBI total was second only to Yogi Berra’s total of 124.
Campanella played ten seasons with Brooklyn between 1948 and 1957 before his exceptional playing career came to a tragic end as a result of an automobile accident in January 1958. The accident left Campanella paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for decades prior to his death in 1993. Game-used jerseys from his career are exceedingly rare. This is only the third example Robert Edward Auctions has seen at public auction in over twenty years. Of those three, this is the earliest. In its letter of opinion, MEARS references a total of five confirmed Campanella examples and affirms that the offered jersey is the earliest known example. It was a common practice for the Dodgers, and many other teams of the era, to repurpose Major League jerseys to minor league or other affiliates, which no doubt contributed to many significant jerseys being lost to time. Thankfully, the offered jersey has survived in remarkable condition after its use by Campanella and a short stint with a member of the Ponca City Dodgers, a D-League affiliate.
Stenciled on the inner lower placket of the jersey is the name “Lloyd Brazada,” a pitcher for the Ponca City team. Brazada appeared in fifteen games for the team in 1951, and while he likely wore this jersey for some or all of those games, it is unlikely that he contributed to much, if any, of the wear present given his role as a pitcher compared to that of Campanella as a catcher. In 1950, Campanella made his second All-Star team and was part of the club that finished two games behind the Phillies in the National League.
Bidding began at $25,000.
Also selling were Campanella’s teammate Jackie Robinson’s 1952 Topps and 1948-1949 Leaf cards for $384,000 and $354,000.