Monday, October 21, 2013

Jackie Robinson's Goodbye Letter to the Dodgers, via Heritage Auctions

This letter from Jackie Robinson to then Dodgers GM Buzzie Bavasi hit me like a ton of bricks.  Certainly, this often scathing communication must have hit the Dodger organization hard too.

Available for sale through Heritage Auctions is a personal letter from Jackie, on "Chock Full o' Nuts" letterhead, to Buzzie that appears to be his final goodbye. 

It is obvious from the letter that Jackie had little love for O'Malley, but he also expresses deep regret at the lost friendship he had with Bavasi.  Additionally, and more shockingly, Jackie disparages the club by accusing them of maliciously getting rid of records related to his time with the Dodgers.

I had thought that Jackie's retirement from the team and game came on a sour note, but I had no idea this kind of animosity existed between him and the club.  Read the entire letter below (dated December 14, 1961), and check out the auction here.
Dear Buzzie:
For whatever it is worth, you must know that I have been disappointed because a friendship I once felt has deteriorated.  Whether I am to blame or you are is not the important thing.  It happened, and frankly, it has disturbed me.

If we were completely honest, we would have to admit that not too many people cooperated with you or the Dodgers any more than I did.  There were few, if any, players who did the off-season promotional work that I did and none more willing to help when it came to contract time.  I was not completely unaware of my value to the Club.  I signed many contracts knowing full well what I was doing.  I will admit it was not a "one-way street", but I did more than my share to be helpful to you and the Club.  It mattered little to me that O'Malley was such a man that he resented anyone having a high regard for another individual because he disliked him.  It mattered little to me that it went beyond this even to the extent of resenting my efforts for equality.  It did matter to me, Buzzie, that you questioned my integrity and did so to the press.  This has been the one thing I find hard to forgive.  If it had been someone I had had problems with, it would not have mattered, but a person I considered a friend and one that I felt I had helped out in many cases and he in turn had done several favors for me did cause concern.  I hate losing a friendship I thought genuine, but these things happen.  We frequently put the wrong emphasis on situations or at least misinterpret the meaning of the act.

The atmosphere that has existed since 1956 has been regarded by me as something a person of my temperment must expect from people who do not believe in the things I believe in, but felt an organization like yours must be pretty small if records were destroyed because of personality differences. I merely wanted to make it a complete break if this was the desire of the Dodgers organization.

As for the file in questions, Mr. Wilson informed me that my file was lost or misplaced in the transfer of records from New York to California.  Therefore, no pictures would be sent for his story.  It may be a mistake, but if you check you would probably find Jackie Robinson never existed as far as your present files are concerned.  I think you know this is alright with me for my concern has not been for records, they never have meant much to me, only our personal relationship.

Best regards.
(Auction Link)

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