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Lot 96

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Lot Number: 96

Description: Highly Important Bill Russell Scrapbook Page with Jackie Robinson autographed letter: The 1961 Lexington, Kentucky Boycott Game. It was October 17, 1961. Although there had been significant gains in the Civil Rights Movement within the United States, it was inherently clear that much more needed to be accomplished. The Boston Celtics were one of the most progressive franchises within the NBA having been the first to draft an African American player and eliminate racial quotas. To promote the upcoming NBA season, the Celtics travelled to Lexington, KY to play the Atlanta Hawks in a pre-season exhibition game. The contest had been specifically staged in Kentucky to showcase two of the home state's all-time greats in Frank Ramsey and Cliff Hagan. Upon checking into the Phoenix Hotel two of the Celtics African American players, Sam Jones, and Tom Sanders, went to the hotel coffee shop to get some food. Upon their entry they were informed by the shop attendant that they do not serve Negroes at the hotel, and they should leave. Jones and Sanders relayed their incident to fellow African American teammates Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, and Al Butler who was equally incensed. The players went to coach, Red Auerbach and informed him that they would not play under these circumstances and intended to return to Boston. Although Auerbach supported their stance, he did feel the players should stay however he ultimately conceded and took them to the airport. The incident was lauded throughout the sports world as an unfortunate, but important, stance for the social justice movement. Upon their return to Boston, it was reported that several white fans met the team on the tarmac offering in support of the players and denouncing how they were treated in Kentucky. Russell commented to a reporter, "We’ve got to show our disapproval of this kind of treatment or else the status quo will prevail. We have the same rights and privileges as anyone else and deserve to be treated accordingly. I hope we never have to go through this abuse again." Offered is an original oversized page from Bill Russell's personal scrapbook which chronicles the 1961 incident in Kentucky. Highlighting the display is a one-page typewritten letter on Chock Full o' Nuts letterhead as sent by retired Kansas City Monarchs and Brooklyn Dodgers star Jackie Robinson. The letter content is as follows: "Dear Bill: I want to add my thanks to the many other letters you and the other fellows received on your stand in Lexington, Kentucky. It is gratifying to know that our athletes have the pride that you fellows do. Your actions aid considerably in our fight for equal opportunity. Please express my thanks to the others. Good luck again this season. Sincerely, Jackie Robinson." The letter is signed by Robinson in blue ink rating 8/9 out of 10 and has been affixed to the album page by use of tape along the perimeter which could be removed if so desired. The remainder of the page displays several prominent articles detailing the incident including accounts from the affected Celtics players. Overall size measures 20"x24" archivally matted and framed. There are some unrelated articles/newspaper photos affixed to the reverse side of the page as well. Although the Robinson letter could be removed from the page, we elected to preserve this important piece of sports and social justice history just as it was found. This is the first time this very significant artifact has been offered to the public and is certainly one of the most important documentaries of this notable historic incident. Includes full LOA from JSA (Robinson autograph) and signed letter of provenance from Bill Russell: Letter: EX-MT, Page: VG-EX

Estimated Price Range: ($25,000-$50,000)

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