Presented here is a compelling artifact from former major league relief pitcher and later baseball executive Johnny Murphy, a marvelous gold belt buckle he was awarded for his role on the Newark Bears’ four game to two victory over the Minneapolis Millers in the Junior World Series. The Junior World Series was the name given to a postseason series between champions of two of the three high-minor baseball leagues, modeled on the World Series of Major League Baseball. It was called the Little World Series until 1932, and also acquired other official names at different times. The various iterations of the Junior World Series were played for most of the years of the 20th century, off and on depending on the fortunes of the various leagues involved. Most often it was held between the champions of the International League (IL) and the American Association (AA). This left the third, and often stronger, minor-league circuit on the West Coast, the Pacific Coast League (PCL) out of this minor league championship series. The 2-by-1 ½-inch gold buckle is in fine condition, with only the most miniscule scratching visible on the gold patina on the front. The buckle has a raised sculpted Newark Bear at the center, flanked on each side by a divided “1932”; engraving at the top of the buckle notes “Newark International Baseball Club” with “World’s Minor League Champions” and “Johnny Murphy” engraved at the bottom. The Bears, an affiliate of the New York Yankees, were an International League power, with a roster loaded with former or eventual major leaguers, most notably Murphy, who though a starter in 16 contests for the Bears that season, would eventually gain notoriety as one of the early relief specialists in the game for the great Yankee squads in the 1930’s and 1940’s. For Newark in 1932, Murphy had a 6-7 log with a 4.17 ERA in 112 innings.
Includes Letter of Provenance from the Murphy Family