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  #1  
Old 01-01-2013, 02:33 PM
Lab-Kid Lab-Kid is offline
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Default Jackie Robinson's Last Home Run Ball

Hi All:

I'm new here and I'm looking for any information/advise that anyone can provide. I hope it is alright to post this here. Anything would be helpful.....

I have, what looks to be, the last home run ball hit by Jackie Robinson and I'd like to know what more information there may be out there, or if it is worth anything. I'm sure there is no way that I could ever prove this, and I can't imagine that in 1956 anyone would even think there would be a need to. I have no interest in sports memorabilia at all and, other than it was my father's, this means nothing to me except it is now a curiosity. Any ideas on where else I could find additional information would be appreciated.

My father had this baseball in his sock drawer for as long as I can remember. He passed away four years ago and I brought it home with me and it has been sitting on my desk ever since (except on a few instances when I had to take it away from my dog). I remember when I was young I asked my father about it and he told me he caught it at a game when he was in the Army and was stationed in Japan. He said he went to the baseball game and he caught this home run ball by reaching over "a little Japanese man sitting in front of him that thought he was going to get it (my father was 6'-2"). He wrote on the ball, "Hit by Jackie Robinson in Tokyo, Japan, 12 Nov '56, Dodgers beat Japan All-Stars 10-2". Being that childhood memories can be foggy, I asked my mother (who is now 77) what she remembered about it and she recalled that "he caught it when he was in Japan and it was hit by some guy and I think it was the next to the last home run he hit, or something like that. Didn't he write what it was on the ball?".

Well, Sunday I was bored and sitting at my desk and wondered if I could find any information on the game. I just love the internet! I never imagined that I might actually find anything. I found this site that described the game:

http://www.walteromalley.com/hist_in...7.php?lang=eng

According to that same website, the next (and last) game they played, nobody hit a home run.

I then Googled Jackie Robinson and noticed on his Wiki page that it said that his last MLB appearance was in October, 1956. I also read that he announced his retirement from baseball via a magazine article that was published in either December, 1956 or January 1957, and I haven't found that he ever played another game after the end of the Japan Goodwill Tour.

My mother said, "I think your father said that whoever hit it came back to the states and hit one more home run". But she didn't even remember who hit it, and I can't find any information that he would have played any other games after this one. Clearly not any MLB games.

Attached are photos of the ball.

Any advise on where else to look, or what to do with it, would be appreciated.

Thanks.
Steve Miller



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  #2  
Old 01-01-2013, 04:46 PM
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Great story.. I"m not sure what balls they would of used on the tour, but I guess a Japanese ball makes sense. While I'm sure the sentimental value is high, the actual value could be pretty high as well.
Thanks for sharing
Matt
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:31 PM
cottnat cottnat is offline
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Really cool mystery and a cool ball regardless. Keep us posted as you learn more.

Found this link for a Tamazawa baseball signed by members of the 1934 Japan Tour, so the brand seems to make sense.

http://www.antiqueathlete.com/vintag...orabilia.shtml
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Old 01-01-2013, 05:34 PM
cottnat cottnat is offline
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Also, the link in your OP didn't work (maybe its just me), but this link does specifically mention that Jackie Robinson hit his last HR in a Dodger uniform.

http://www.walteromalley.com/hist_in...7.php?lang=eng
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:18 PM
Lab-Kid Lab-Kid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cottnat View Post
Also, the link in your OP didn't work (maybe its just me), but this link does specifically mention that Jackie Robinson hit his last HR in a Dodger uniform.

http://www.walteromalley.com/hist_in...7.php?lang=eng
Thanks for fixing the link, that is the one that I found. I was amazed that I was able to find information on an exhibition game played 56 years ago half way around the world!
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:46 PM
BigJJ BigJJ is offline
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Let's think about what kind of corrobative evidence may be out there.
First i think it would be a plus to confirm that the ball you have is a Japanese professional baseball of the type used in 1956. This should be a first step. Establishing that this is a -1956- professional Japanese ball. This should be doable.
Second, are there any early photos of your Dad and the ball, either from Japan, which would be a plus, or from home many years ago.
Third, did your dad save the ticket stub and/or program.
Fourth, helpful to history, the Japanese film a tremendous amount. Perhaps there is a video of the home run, including your dads catch. This is a very real possibility. Perhaps Major League Baseball has a liaison to the Japanese professional league who might be of assistance.
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Old 01-01-2013, 08:43 PM
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Default jrobby ball

for what its worth, stories can change throughout the years... do you think that this perhaps could have been a fould ball hit by jackie while barnstorming in Japan? I would think that if the owner (your dad) caught a home run ball from Jackie Robinson (nevermind any other player) he would have inscribed the ball as a "home run ball" hit by jackie robinson... insteadhe just inscribes it as a ball "hit" by jackie...

the story of his 6'2" frame overpowering the gent in front of him to catch it denotes that the ball was out of play but not necessarilly a homer... this could potentially correspond with the box score noting no homers...

either way an awesome ball and wonderful piece of history...

congrats & please keep it away from your dog!
-Dave
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Old 01-01-2013, 09:30 PM
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Dave,
I was thinking the same thing.

Last edited by yanks12025; 01-01-2013 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 01-01-2013, 11:37 PM
cottnat cottnat is offline
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The link also states Robinson's HR was hit 420 ft. Maybe try to find the dimensions of the ballpark they played at to verify there are stands where the ball was hit. Not a ground breaking detail, but a small piece to the puzzle to help build your case.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:22 AM
Lab-Kid Lab-Kid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daves_resale_shop View Post
for what its worth, stories can change throughout the years... do you think that this perhaps could have been a fould ball hit by jackie while barnstorming in Japan? I would think that if the owner (your dad) caught a home run ball from Jackie Robinson (nevermind any other player) he would have inscribed the ball as a "home run ball" hit by jackie robinson... insteadhe just inscribes it as a ball "hit" by jackie...

the story of his 6'2" frame overpowering the gent in front of him to catch it denotes that the ball was out of play but not necessarilly a homer... this could potentially correspond with the box score noting no homers...

either way an awesome ball and wonderful piece of history...

congrats & please keep it away from your dog!
-Dave
It is certainly possible that the story is not as I remember it. I was probably only about eight when he told me and I certainly don't remember every detail. When I asked my mother, I intentionally asked her what she recalled about it (without first telling her my recollection) since I didn't want to influence her response. Her memories are in line with mine, but then again she wasn't clear on all the details, and at 77 she would be the first to admit that her memory isn't what it was. The game summary does specifically say that there were four home runs hit that game and one was by Jackie Robinson. But that clearly doesn't prove anything.

I've tried to put myself in my father's position back then, and having thought it through I'm not surprised there isn't more details. First of all, my father wasn't a sentimental guy who saved anything, in fact this ball might be the only thing from his youth that he did save. Besides his discharge papers and a duffel bag, he didn't save anything else from his time in the Army. I'm sure that as a 20 year old private in the Army he went back to his barracks and scribbled the inscription on the ball and threw it in his foot locker as a nice momento from his time in Japan. Second, sports memorabilia collection didn't have the same sophistication that it has today. This ball is from an exhibition game being played against All-Stars from a foreign country at a time when it hadn't been announced that Jackie Robinson was retiring so nobody knew this was the second to the last game he ever played. Who would really place any significance on the game at the time? Keep in mind, this game was played only 11 years after we dropped two atomic bombs on them and tensions in the Koreas were still very high.

Like I said originally, I doubt that I could ever prove this, but I appreciate the thoughts offered so far. I did go back and look at archived Pacific editions of Stars and Stripes and they do have articles on the game, but not surprisingly no details that would be of help to me.

Thanks again for the help. Please share any other ideas you may have. And I will put it someplace out of the reach of my dog!
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