Within the realm of Jackie Robinson signed baseballs, the offered example might be one of the most important because it symbolizes both the struggle that Jackie Robinson and other African-American players experienced while breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball, and the overt racism that still exits both in baseball and other major professional sport leagues in America.
This official National League (Frick) features the blue-ink signatures of Jackie Robinson and Al Campanis together on a side panel, and that of Roy Campanella on an adjacent panel. We have never seen another ball such as this, signed by Campanis and Robinson, let alone together on a side panel. The pairing of the two signatures is ironic given their two legacies. Robinson broke baseball's longstanding color barrier and was a champion of equal rights throughout his life. Campanis was a longtime Dodgers front-office executive who, on April 6, 1987, forty-years after Robinson's historic debut, appeared on the highly rated news program, Nightline, and continued to repeat the same bigoted remarks and racial stereotypes that were used at the time of Robinson's debut. We won't repeat the comments he made, but the entire interview is available on YouTube for anyone who wishes to revisit the shameful conversation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFb5kEnWnKk). It was a clear and sad confirmation that when it came to racial equality within the upper echelons of professional sports management, almost no progress had been made since 1947.
Campanis was the Dodgers' vice president and director of player personnel at the time of the interview and his comments were all the more disturbing given his direct association with Robinson. Campanis and Robinson were teammates on the Montreal Royals in 1946, Robinson's first season in professional baseball, so Campanis witnessed first hand what Robinson had to overcome in breaking baseball's color barrier. That none of what Campanis saw and experienced changed his views on the capabilities of African Americans demonstrated just how ingrained racial prejudice was in this country.
The history of this ball, or how it came to bear these three signatures, is unknown, but it dates from the 1949-1951 manufacturing period. Both Robinson and Campanella (who joined the Dodgers in 1948, one year after Robinson) were teammates with the Dodgers during that time. Campanis, who played in the Major Leagues only briefly in 1943, joined the Dodgers in 1950 as a front-office assistant. Presumably, then, this ball was signed by the trio sometime in either 1950 or 1951 while all three were together in Brooklyn. Even so, it is still a rare pairing of Dodgers signatures on a baseball and is almost certainly unique.
The Campanella signature is the strongest of the three, grading 8/10. The Robinson signature grades 7/10, while Campanis' grades 5/10 (slight smudging). The ball has been coated with a light layer of protective shellac, to which there are a few small abrasions, otherwise the ball remains in Excellent condition overall. Full LOA from PSA.