Friday, May 31, 2013

Dodger Correspondence: Gino Cimoli Says, "I Want to Play" to Buzzie Bavasi

The above 1958 Topps Gino Cimoli card is one of the all-time great cardboard blunders.  As you can see, Topps colored out the background to a bright yellow, but at the same time removed the bat that he was no doubt swinging.  So, as a consequence he looks mighty weird in that pose.

Gino Cimoli was a Bay Area born outfielder who signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949.  He slowly moved up the ranks and impressed in AAA, but stalled as more seasoned pro's filled out the roster in Brooklyn.  Names like Snider, Amoros, Furillo, Shuba and Gilliam blocked his progress.

Soon, though he could not be stopped.  He finally made his first Major League appearance in 1956, and although his numbers were not great he was undaunted.  He wanted to play, and didn't care where.

Per a letter I ran into on eBay, check out what Gino wrote to Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi in February of 1957.
Dear Buzzie, Enclosed is my contact. Please send my copy back to my home address. My family will not be accompany-ing me to Vero Beach or Miami this year. I am enplaning for Vero Saturday and will arrive Sunday night in Camp. Had planned on writing a few of my ideas to you but decided to wait and do it when I see you in person. - Just a little forewarning - Haven't changed my mind since you last threw me out of your office. - New year but same old idea - I want to play - whether it be in Flatbush or elsewhere!! See you in Vero, Gino."
Play me or trade me is what he said.  As history tells us, Cimoli did stay on with the Dodgers and got regular playing time in the outfield during the 1957 season.  In fact, he had a career year.  Gino batted .293 and slugged 10 home runs.  He also made his only appearance in the All-Star Game that season.

Unfortunately, his star would soon fade for the Dodgers.  Cimoli was traded to St. Louis in 1958 for Wally Moon.  And as they say, the rest is history.

BTW, Gino Cimoli is the answer to a great trivia question.  He was the very first player to go to bat in a West Coast Major League game.
(Auction Link)

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