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The Washington Senators owner bids a sad farewell to his team's greatest star

1927 Clark Griffith Signed Letter to Walter Johnson Granting Unconditional Release with Official Release Form. On October 15, 1927, Walter Johnson announced his retirement from pitching, bringing to a close one of the most storied careers in all of baseball. The year had begun full of promise, with the sportswriters in spring training marveling at his condition and effectiveness heading into his twenty-first year in the Major Leagues. But a line drive from teammate Joe Judge off a Johnson pitch in batting practice broke his left ankle, putting him in a cast and on the sidelines for the first two months of the season.

When he did return, the leg continued to be a problem and led to a distinctly un-Johnson-like record of five wins and six losses. Figuring this was the right time to put into action his plan of several years to move into a different phase of his career in baseball, Johnson informed Washington owner Clark Griffith of his intentions at a meeting in the team offices on October 14. After trying to talk his star pitcher out of it, Griffith consented to Johnson's request for an unconditional release, telling a reporter, "I hate the idea that Walter will not be with us next season."

The next day, Griffith wrote Johnson a heartfelt letter reflecting the warm relationship between the two men during their long association.

"Dear Walter,

In pursuance of your conversation with me of yesterday in which you requested that the Washington American League Baseball Club give you your unconditional release I wish to say that while it will not seem natural to me, nor I imagine to the public, to look at a Washington ball team without you on it, I of course feel it is my duty to grant your request, especially in view of the fact that you state you have many business propositions offered you which you desire to consider at this time. You state to me that you believe your efficiency as a pitcher on the Washington Club is practically at an end and that rather than remain here and attempt to carry on, you think it to our advantage as well as to your best interests to be free to invest your money in and probably manage some ball club which would assure your future in the game. This is only in keeping with the great honest spirit of sportsmanship which you have always displayed during your baseball career.

I deeply regret that our day of parting associations has arrived and I am granting your request solely with the belief that it is being of service to you. Assuring you that I will use my best efforts to secure waivers that you know are necessary for an unconditional release and wishing you all the good luck in the world, I am

Yours most sincerely,

[signed] Clark C Griffith,


Single typed page on Senators letterhead exhibits original mailing folds but no other issues of note. Griffith's blue fountain pen autograph rates 10/10.

Also here is the "Notice to Player of Release or Transfer, American League," dated "November 5, 1927," officially finalizing Johnson's retirement. The 4x6" document is likewise signed flawlessly by Griffith. Each document has been clipped from Johnson's scrapbook, with backing paper still affixed but invisible upon display. Full LOA from PSA/DNA. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication. Letter of provenance from Walter Johnson's daughter & grandson.


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Auction Dates
February, 2013
23rd-24th Saturday-Sunday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
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