Three years before he pioneered baseball’s integration, Jackie Robinson fought bigotry in the U.S. Army. Next month, the legal papers from his court martial proceedings will be put up for sale.
A collection of papers chronicling a signature moment in the struggle for civil rights has been consigned to Memory Lane Incorporated and will be offered for sale as part of the company’s upcoming auction.
The historic lot consists of file copies of the legal documents and transcripts associated with the 1944 U.S. military court martial of Baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, then a soldier stationed in Texas. The documents reveal that Robinson was pioneering civil rights years before he stepped onto the field as baseball’s first African-American Major Leaguer.
Noted baseball memorabilia collector John Branca who is divesting some of his private collection consigned the papers to Memory Lane.
A second lieutenant in the United States Army serving at Camp Hood during World War II, Robinson was brought up on charges of insubordination over a racially charged incident on a U.S. Army bus. The verbal altercation with a white driver occurred when the Robinson stopped to talk with a female passenger halfway down the aisle and was ordered to proceed to the back of the bus. Such a directive was against Army policy. Nevertheless, Robinson was court martialed. He was later acquitted and petitioned for a discharge, which was granted honorably by the Army.
The case was made into a 1990 TV movie starring Andre Braugher.
The lot includes file copies of the legal documents and transcripts associated with the court martial. The documents, one of which contains Robinson’s hand-written initials noting a change in his testimony, chronicle the event.
After a stint in the Negro Leagues and the minor leagues of professional baseball, General Manager Branch Rickey called up Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He embarked on a relatively brief, but wildly successful Major League career that resulted in his election to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.
Over 900 lots of vintage sports cards and memorabilia will be offered in the Memory Lane Spring Fever Extravaganaz auction, which begins with online and telephone bidding April 20 and closes May 17.