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Lot # 1048 (of 1727)   < Previous Lot | Next Lot >

Branch Rickey and Walter O'Malley Typed Letters Signed- Significant Baseball Content!

Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $4,700

Two one-page typed letters, each on official Brooklyn Dodgers letterhead, signed, respectively, by Branch Rickey and Walter O'Malley, the two men directly responsible for breaking baseball's long-standing color barrier in 1946. Of the two, the Rickey letter, dated "Ciudad Trujillo - March 6th, 1948," is the more historically significant piece, as it commemorates the move that would solidify the Dodgers infield for the next eight seasons, a period often referred to as the "Golden Age" in franchise history. In his letter, Rickey writes to Walter O'Malley and urges him to deal starting second baseman Eddie Stanky, who is standing in the way of "better men" in the minors. In full:

The Stanky deal is a right deal to make even if we were getting nothing for him at all, and I mean just that. I like the boy. I think he has managerial future, and he is a good ball player. I believe we have better men who would have no chance at all to make our team if Stanky were retained. Boston gives us Sanders and in addition guarantees his physical fitness. If on or before April 20th Sanders is not satisfactory to us, player can be returned to Boston and Boston will pay us $40,000. In addition, the Boston Club has mailed its check for $60,000 to our office as cash payment in the deal. Also, Boston agrees to sell infielder-outfielder Rowel to Montreal for $10,000. I don't know how the press will take it but I am sure that Manager Durocher, Shottton, Sukeforth, Blades and Pitler agree with me fully that the Boston-Brooklyn exchange is good for our club,-even without any money involved. Therefore, if we get an unfavorable reaction from the press or public- well, I will just have to stand for it. Yours, Branch Rickey [signed].

Rickey's signature is scripted in blue fountain and grades "10." The Dodgers traded Stanky to the Braves on the very day this letter was written. While the immediate returns went to the Braves (Stanky batted .320 and helped the Braves win the pennant), Rickey's far-reaching vision for the Dodger's future was right on the mark. The trade of Stanky allowed Jackie Robinson to move from first to second, which in turn let the Dodgers move Gil Hodges from catcher to first base. That move opened up the catcher's position for Roy Campanella. With Reese at shortstop and Billy Cox at third (Cox was obtained via trade in December, 1947) Rickey now had the infield that would be considered by many to be the best-fielding unit of all time. Thus, with the trade of Stanky, commemorated here in this letter, the 1950s-era Dodgers dynasty was born. It's also interesting to note that Rickey wrote this letter from the club's spring training camp in Ciudad Trujillo (now Santo Domingo). The Dodgers moved their training camp from Florida to Ciudad Trujillo in order to shield Jackie Robinson from the hostile resentment he would have encountered down South. The letter (8.5 x 11 inches) displays two horizontal mailing folds, two notebook holes along the top border, and an illegible ink notation in the upper left corner; otherwise in Excellent to Mint condition. Given the content, and the historical implications of the trade, this is certainly one of the finest Rickey letters we have ever offered. The O'Malley letter, dated February 15, 1951, does not carry the significance of the Rickey letter, but remains a fine representative sample from one of the most recent inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Here, O'Malley writes to a former employee (Mickey McConnell) and wishes him well in his new job. He closes by writing "I appreciate the cooperation you are giving Harold and Frank and know that all your chores will be left in such shape that the boys will be able to carry on without too much interruption. Sincerely yours, Walter O'Malley [signed]." O'Malley's signature is executed in blue fountain pen and grades "9." The letter (7.25 x 11.5 inches) displays two horizontal mailing folds and brown staple mark in the upper left corner; otherwise in Excellent condition. Total: 2 letters. LOA from James Spence/JSA. Reserve $300. Estimate $500/$1,000. SOLD FOR $4,700

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