As a followup to the Q-and-A with Sports Museum of L.A. curator Gary Cypress, we had him pick out his favorite Dodger-related items. These days, the 69-year-old says he is focusing his collection on anything Dodgers and Yankees related.
The list as it is today, he says, and in no particular order:
== The Don Newcombe trophy collection: Obtained in late March of this year, it includes his 1956 Cy Young Award – the first ever given in baseball history – for the right-hander’s 27-7 record and 3.06 ERA. It is displayed next to Newcombe’s 1956 National League MVP award and the 1949 Rookie of the Year Award.
“You put this in the context of Dodger history and integration, it’s (Jackie) Robinson, (Roy) Campanella and (Don) Newcombe,” said Cypres. “These were in a private collection of someone very famous, and he decided to sell them. They’re wonderful artifacts.” They are also displayed with framed newspaper featuring stories of events pertaining to the players’ memorabilia. “They explain the event in the time period, not in today’s language,” he said. “It’s also wonderful to see what else was going on in the world that day, for an historical perspective. That’s important. They’re hard to find these papers in good shape. It’s taken years and years. You can go online and find digital reproductions, too. But it doesn’t quite look the same.”
== A framed, handwritten document on Brooklyn Base Ball Association stationary and signed by team president C.H. Byrne on Nov. 20, 1889 that signifies the franchise accepted an invitation to join the American Association. “It’s the very start of everything – it’s like having the Declaration of Independence for the Dodgers,” says Cypres. “It’s fundamentally their beginnings. Wouldn’t you like to have that?”
== The first baseball thrown out at Ebbets Field, packaged in a wooden case along with a scoop of infield soil and a broken champaign bottle used on the 1913 Opening Day. It was a gift presented to team owner Charles Ebbetts on July 15 of that year.
== An authentic home and road wool jersey of the 1913 Brooklyn Dodgers. “They’re beautiful,” said Cypres. “It was found in someone’s trunk and I think it had been there for 50 years.” The jersey belongs to a pitcher named Earl “E.H.” Yingling in 1912. Dodger records indicate Yingling had a 25-34 career record with a 3.22 ERA from 1912-13.
== The giant brass plaque that was display in the Ebbets Field rotunda. “We had to screw that into the wall and enforce it, it weights a couple hundred pounds,” said Cypres, also pointing out a photo of it in the New York Times. “There are two of these – one in the Baseball Hall of Fame (in Cooperstown, N.Y.) and this one here.”
== A dark green turnstile used at the entrance of Ebbets Field from 1913 to 1957, the year it was eventually demolished. A top the turnstile was a counter to determine the number of fans entering the park. “You see how they made this so no one could sneak in,” said Cypres, noting the cage piping that hung from each bar near to the ground.
== The drum used by the fans who played in the Dodgers’ “Sym-phony Band,” banging it in the Ebbets Field stands to make noise more than music. “Nothing quite symbolizes the Dodgers’ lore than this,” said Cypres.
== The 1957 Rawlings Gold Glove presented to first baseman Gil Hodges – the first one awarded by the company. “He belongs in the Hall of Fame,” Cypres said of Hodges.
== The jersey and hat worn by Babe Ruth when he coached the Dodgers in 1938, which also has a patch on the shoulder commemorating the upcoming 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
The size of his waist: “Large, large and large,” said Cypress. “Although it’s kind of deceiving because of how it’s stretched in the display. It has a dramatic effect. I like that. I think there are only two or three, home and road, that exist.” There are also stains around the collar of the jersey. “Maybe it’s Ruth’s DNA, from tobacco juice,” said Cypres. “It’s a wonderful stain, whatever it is.”
== Johnny Podres’ 1955 World Series MVP Award presented by Sport Magazine – the only championship won by the Brooklyn Dodgers.
== A wall of 16 embroidered portraits featuring detailed reproductions of players, coaches and broadcasters (including Red Barber and Vin Scully) connected with the Brooklyn Dodgers, done by artist Ray Materson. He learned the craft while serving a 15-year prison sentence, salvaging the thread of worn socks. Cypres commissioned the project after seeing Materson’s work in 2003 at the American Museum of Folk Art in New York. “He said it took him 50 hours to do each one of them,” said Cypres. “His story is pretty amazing, swapping cigarettes for material to sew. These are gems.”
== An 84×84 inch quilt by Clara Rothmeier in 1955 stitching together 44 8×10 portraits she created of Brooklyn Dodger players, coaches and owner Walter O’Malley. Each portrait was sent to the person to autograph it, and when returned, their autographs were then stitched over permanently into the piece. “This is a reminder why baseball Americana is so popular, it reaches so many different levels into the home before even radio and television,” said Cypres. “You can see it in the early stages of our nation.”
== A 1952 Jackie Robinson Dodgers jersey, with the red “42” stitched onto the front — the first time the team added that feature to the uniform. “The Warner Brothers producers of the new movie ‘42’ actually borrowed this, and many other Jackie items, to recreate it,” said Cypres. This jersey comes with a letter of authenticity from his widow, Rachel Robinson, and the name “Robinson 52” is embroidered into the front tail of the jersey as was customary.