Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dodger Correspondence: Ralph Branca Plays Contract Hardball Against Branch Rickey

Here is another edition of Dodger Correspondence

This time I share another letter that I found on eBay that was written by former Brooklyn Dodger Ralph Branca to then GM Branch Rickey.  As you can see, Branca is seeking more money.
Dear Mr. Rickey,
Enclosed you will find my returned contract.  You will also note that it is unsigned.  This is to let you know that I am not in accord with you on salary terms for 1945.
Sincerely Yours,
Ralph T. Branca
I have no idea what Rickey offered Branca, but I do know that at the time Branca wrote this letter he had yet to win a Major League game.  He had just finished up his rookie season in Brooklyn, going 0-2 with a 7.05 ERA in 21 games (20 as a reliever).  Clearly, Branca wasn't very effective in the games he pitched.  On the other hand, a quick look at his gamelog that season shows that he mostly came in for mop-up duty.

Branca and Rickey eventually came to terms for a reported $3,300 (according to Baseball-Reference).  Frankly, I'm not sure if that's right.  It seems way too low, or was this the kind of salary a young player would expect to get back then?  If so, no wonder he balked at the first offer.

BTW, Ralph Branca pitched much better in 1945.  He primarily started for the Dodgers going 5-6 with 15 starts and 1 save.  Branca had a ERA of 3.04 and completed 7 games.  That's a much better showing for the kid known as Hawk.
(Auction Link)

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