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Jackie Robinson’s rookie season ‘Color Barrier’ jersey valued at $3m

A jersey worn by Jackie Robinson during his historic first season in Major League Baseball could sell for more than $3 million at auction next month.
The jersey bears Robinson’s iconic #42, which was retired universally across Major League Baseball in 1997 to honour his achievements.

In 1947 Jackie Robinson became the first African American player to break the MLB color barrier, and changed the face of both American sport and the Civil Rights movement forever.

Despite facing opposition from other players and fans during his first season, Robinson helped the Dodgers reach the World Series and earned himself the national Rookie of the Year award for his performances.

The day after the Dodgers won the pennant, they honoured the achievements of their star rookie at Ebbets Field.

On September 23 fans packed the house for the first-ever Jackie Robinson Day, and during the ceremony Robinson and his wife Rachel were showered with gifts and awards.

These included a brand-new Cadillac, which was presented by the renowned black entertainer Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, who had himself broken countless colour barriers in the entertainment world.

"I am sixty-nine years old," he told sportswriters, "but I never thought I would live to see the day when I would stand face to face with Ty Cobb in Technicolor."

The jersey offered at Heritage Auctions is the same one Jackie Robinson wore that day – a moment which has been described as "unquestionably, the greatest public celebration of a black man in American history to date."

It’s believed that Robinson then wore the jersey during the World Series, in which the Dodgers fell to the New York Yankees in seven games.

The jersey spent more than half a century in the collection of the Robinson Family Archive, and comes with a letter of authentication from Robinson’s wife Rachel.

A game-worn Jackie Robinson jersey from any era is a treasure in itself. One worn during the World Series is ever better.

But a jersey worn by Robinson during the most important rookie season in sporting history, photo-matched and with family provenance, is remarkable.

It’s an item that transcends the sports memorabilia hobby, and places up amongst the most significant cultural artifacts in American 20th century history.

The Heritage Auctions Heroes of Sport sale takes place in Dallas on November 19.

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