One of only 17 major-league players never to have spent a single day in the minors, Johnny Antonelli was a highly coveted phenom who signed a “bonus baby” contract with the Boston Braves for $52,000 a few days after graduating from Rochester’s Jefferson High School in 1948. It wasn’t until six years later, when he was traded to the New York Giants, that the stylish left-hander began realizing the potential the scouts had seen in him.
Sports icons Muhammad Ali, Mickey Mantle, Arnold Palmer, Jim Brown, Sandy Koufax and Joe Namath were among the athletes who wore this belt made from genuine alligator skin featuring a five-pound, solid gold buckle, encrusted with diamonds, rubies and sapphires. For a quarter of a century, from 1950 to 1976, the S. Rae Hickok Belt was the most coveted and respected individual award in all of sports. It was given annually to the professional athlete of the year at an award banquet held in Rochester, N.Y. which became known as “the Academy Awards of Sports.”