Description1946 Buzzie Bavasi Letter with Campanella, Newcombe, & Rickey Content. In 1945, Dodgers president Branch Rickey contacted executive Buzzie Bavasi, who was relaxing with family in Georgia after his return from Italy during World War II, and asked Bavasi to find a suitable location for a club in the newly reformed New England League. Rickey had just signed Jackie Robinson to a contract, and while Robinson and John Wright were expected to integrate the International League as a member of the Montreal Royals, Bavasi believed that Rickey would sign other African American players during the 1945-46 offseason. With the possibility that the New England League club would be integrated, Bavasi looked for a community with a significant French Canadian population (believing that the ethnic group would be accepting of African Americans) and a racially progressive newspaper. He chose Nashua, New Hampshire.
By the middle of March, Rickey had signed two African American players, catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe, to play for the Dodgers organization. Initially he offered Campanella to the Danville, Illinois entry in the Three-I League, but the Danville general manager believed that his league was not ready for integration. Bavasi readily accepted the two players. Rickey did not announce the signings to the media for another month, however, to give Bavasi time to integrate the team into the community.
Campanella batted .291, hit thirteen home runs, and was named the team's Most Valuable Player. He also managed one game in Lawrence, Massachusetts, after Walter Alston was ejected, becoming the first African American to manage an integrated professional baseball team. Newcombe won 14 and lost 4 games, boasted a 2.21 earned run average, and hit .311--even pinch hitting in some games. The Dodgers placed second in 1946, but won the league championship by defeating Lynn.
The offered letter, on 8.5x11" Nashua Dodgers stationary is dated "July 15, 1946" with a "JUL 12 1946" red stamp is written by the aforementioned Bavasi and references the contracts of both Campanella and Newcombe as well as Brooklyn's General Manager "Mr. Rickey". Bavasi has signed with his nickname in quotes below the typed message. A pair of folds where the letter was once made to fit in an envelope. A pair of staple holes appear in the upper left corner with light wear exhibited elsewhere. Pre-Certified by PSA/DNA.
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