Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

The myth of Jackie Robinson’s retirement

Chock Full O' Nuts president William Black with Jack R. Robinson

From 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die:

One of the great myths in Dodgers history is that Jackie Robinson retired rather than play for the team’s nemesis, the New York Giants, after the Dodgers traded him there, seven weeks before his 38th birthday. In fact, as numerous sources such as Arnold Rampersad’s Jackie Robinson: A Biography indicate, Robinson had already made the decision to retire and take a position as vice president of personnel relations with the small but growing Chock Full O’ Nuts food and restaurant chain. This happened on December 10, 1957. But Robinson had a preexisting contract to give Look magazine exclusive rights to his retirement story, which meant the public couldn’t hear about his news until a January 8, 1958 publication date.

The night he signed his Chocktract, on December 11, Dodger general manager Buzzie Bavasi called Robinson to tell him he had been traded to the Giants. Teammates and the public reacted with shock to the news and rallied to his defense, even though Robinson had no intention of reporting. When the truth finally came out, it was Robinson who caught the brunt of the negative reaction at the time. Over the years, however, the story evolved into the fable that Robinson chose retirement because playing for the Giants was a moral impossibility. Robinson left baseball and the Dodgers nursing grievances over how he was treated. The trade to the Giants wasn’t the last straw that drove him out, but rather an event that confirmed that the decision he had already made was well chosen.

The newly revised edition of “100 Things Dodgers” is on sale now.


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  1. Adam Luther

    One of the many accuracies, i.e. “setting the record straight” in Jon’s book. Jon-do I recall reading something regarding updating the book????

  2. The newly revised edition of “100 Things Dodgers” is on sale now.

    • Anonymous

      What! Don’t tell me the one I already have is full of mistakes.

  3. Anonymous

    A w is a w is a w. It wasn’t always pretty–even Billz had an inning where he couldn’t throw strikes–but it was enough.

    Last night’s game was a good example of what Mattingly was talking about: you can’t leave a lot of guys on base if you don’t get them on in the first place. If we’ve all agreed that there’s no such thing as clutchiness, the high number of LOB can be attributed to a small sample size. Over the course of the year, the Dodgers’ avg. with RISP is going to be approximately what it is without RISP. So I look for a few games here and there where they only notch five hits but all five of them drive in runs.

    I’m more encouraged by two hits apiece for Cruz and Kemp. Kemp’s last at-bat, where he hit a monster bomb foul and then just missed a deep fly to center, shows me he’s oh-so-close to exploding. He’s hitting the ball hard, just not exactly where it needs tobe.

  4. Well, foo. I bought a copy of the book from Amazon in February. My timing is impeccable, as always. Jon, I hope the revisions weren’t too drastic! ;)

    • Give it as a gift and buy another!

      • Onlyatriple

        Sold! Now I will have the old version and the new version.

      • From the Sept 18 blog post here: ” Orlando Hudson’s cycle and other
        treats from the past three years will be included in the second

        Hmmm. I don’t recall too many highlights from the past three years other than Kershaw’s and Kemp’s blossoming. :)

  5. Jon,

    Bought the book when it first came out and loved it. Wonderful stories and great writing. Will the new version be available in ebook form?

  6. foul tip

    Harang supposedly to become a Mariner.

  7. Anonymous

    I read this in the original version, I think, and don’t like it one bit. I am much happier with Babe Ruth calling his shot, Abner Doubleday inventing baseball in Cooperstown, NY, and Jackie Robinson refusing to play for the Giants. Let us have our myths!

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