June 2019 Summer Premium Auction - Rare & High-Grade Cards You Won't Find Anywhere Else
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 6/30/2019

It is no exaggeration to say that the offered 1959 Heinerle Meadowlark Lemon rookie card may be the least known and most underappreciated basketball Hall of Fame rookie card in the hobby. When you take a minute to recognize and appreciate its stunning visual appeal, however, and you take into account its cultural relevance and historical significance, it is frankly no exaggeration to call it one of the greatest of all basketball cards ever produced. Clad in his iconic Globetrotters uniform, Lemon controls the ball and commands orders to his teammates. He appears almost statuesque, towering above a white European player who bows reverently to his highness, The Clown Prince of Basketball, while a mean-looking referee menaces in the background. The image is almost shocking in its artistic, tableau-like composition. I simply could not be more in love with this card.

Sadly, at least for the time being, PSA does not recognize the name Meadowlark Lemon as the central figure on the card, even though we know his likeness and we can clearly see his retired number "36" on his shorts. As one of only four copies ever graded by PSA, we also know that the card is extremely rare. It hails from the 1958-1959 German-printed Heinerle set, a multi-sport issue that also contains a significant Pele rookie card recognizing the young Brazilian player's performance in the 1958 World Cup. An indication of the set's scarcity and obscurity, PSA currently shows two entries for the issue in its population report, one in 1959 Miscellaneous cards and the other in 1958 Multisport cards. Well known to the soccer hobby, the Pele card has been graded 71 times, with the highest-graded examples rating as a single copy in the NM-MT 8 grade followed by a single copy graded NM 7, both of which would likely fetch significantly more than five-figures in the current market for high-end soccer cards. As for the other three Meadowlark Lemon cards currently on record in PSA's pop report, two appear in the VG 3 column, and the third has been graded VG+ 3.5.

Meadowlark Lemon grew up in the segregated south and played much of his 24-year career with the Globetrotters under the weight of Jim Crow laws and other forms of institutionalized racism that persisted well into the 1980s. If not for Jim Crow, there is no question that he would have been one of the greatest professional basketball players of the 1950s and 1960s. Playing for the Globetrotters, however, gave him occasional respite from the American South. He traveled the world, playing in some 7,500 consecutive games in more than 100 countries, serving as an ambassador not only for his cherished game, but also for his country, for decency, and for goodwill. His destiny, he once said, was to make people smile. In the process of living out his childhood dream, he became a world class athlete who helped knock down racial barriers years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to former teammate and CEO of the Globetrotters, Mannie Jackson, "He changed people's attitudes about race, he changed foreigners' attitudes about America, and along the way, he made millions love the game of basketball." The least we as a hobby can do is to recognize the man on his first of tragically too-few trading cards produced during his playing career, and we hope the winning bidder will agree to pursue this end with PSA.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $500
Final prices include buyers premium: $610
Number Bids: 1
Auction closed on Sunday, June 30, 2019.
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