Memorabilia from the life and career of Martin Dihigo, the only man ever to be inducted into the Baseball Halls of Fame in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, has been consigned to auction. The collection is being offered by Hake’s Americana in its current auction.
There were no footsteps big enough for Dihigo – a k a “El Maestro” – to follow as he forged his remarkable career. His plaque at Cooperstown describes the five-nation Hall of Famer as “the most versatile of all Negro League players.” Along with Babe Ruth, Dihigo is regarded as one of the greatest two-way players in baseball history. His fellow Hall of Famer Buck Leonard described Dihigo as “the best ballplayer of all time, black or white.”
“Hake’s is tremendously proud to be auctioning Martin Dihigo’s personal memorabilia archive on behalf of the Dihigo family,” said Hake’s President Alex Winter. “In part, it documents a remarkable career through 1940s team photos of Martin with the Havana Lions and Cienfuegos Elephants in Cuba, and later with the Mexican League’s Xalapa Chileros. But in addition, the archive includes the 1920s-era baseball cards that Martin collected as a teenager. Never before have we ever encountered anything like this, where a baseball player’s memorabilia includes his boyhood collection of baseball cards.”
Photos include an 8 x 10 matte-finish shot of the Havana Lions, signed and annotated by Dihigo. It is one of three different known Cuban League team premiums issued in early 1923 by the Cuban newspaper La Discusion and is quite likely the earliest depiction of a then-17-year-old Dihigo as a professional player. It’s expected to sell for between $10,000 and $20,000.
Dihigo’s personally compiled photo album from his 1925-26 season chronicles his travels in the US and Cuba while playing for the Negro League Cuban Stars and Cuban League Marianao Tigers. The 40-photograph album is also expected to reach $10,000-$20,000.
A second album contains Dihigo’s prized collection of 1923-24 Gutierrez and Billiken cigarette/cigar baseball cards. The five key players is this album are HOFers John Henry “Pop” Lloyd, Oscar Charleston, Cristobal Torriente, Jose Mendez and Andy Cooper.
“This album was available by turning in a complete set of 85 Diaz Cigarette cards. Also included are 51 cards from a 60-card edition issued by Billiken Cigars. With the addition of Martin’s signature – multiple times – and his handwritten notes, this album is a baseball collectible of the highest magnitude,” said Winter. It is estimated at $20,000-$35,000.
All Martin Dihigo items will convey with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) signed by Martin’s son, Gilberto Dihigo.
For more information, visit Hake’s website.