Winter Premier Auction 2021


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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 4/3/2021

In this unique 2-sided letter one becomes privy to the controlled fire found inside Jackie Robinson that propelled him to the remarkable heights he achieved before, during and after he became major league baseball’s first Black player in the 20th century. The subject of this letter was a February 24, 1969 talk Robinson gave at the New Jersey Bank and Trust Company’s “Challenge of the Seventies” speaker series in Paterson, NJ. By this time in his life, Jackie Robinson was far from the restrictions that once silenced his opinions when he broke baseball’s color line in 1947. Since 1949, Robinson never shied away from making his own personal convictions and beliefs known to the public, no matter how unpopular or ill-received they may be to some, and his Paterson talk was apparently one of those instances.

In the audience that night was Milton Sacks, who took personal offence at part of Robinson’s speech. An article in the February 26, 1969 Paterson News mentions the portion of Robinson’ talk that triggered Sacks, writing, “He reminded the audience of the mass murder of Jews during World War II, but said that during the slave trading years, an estimated 140 million blacks were killed. That figure was the population of the United States in 1945,” he said. That’s something to think about.”

In Sacks’ letter to Robinson, included in this archive, he writes, “Being a Jew, I am naturally very sensitive when an attempted genocide which resulted in over 6,000,000 Jews being exterminated in a short period of time is treated very lightly and made to seem insignificant as compared to ‘140,000,000 Blacks’. When questioned as to the accuracy of the 140,000,000 you seemed to evade the issue by quoting ‘our research department, which I am sure is accurate in its statistics’.” Sacks requests the source of the 140,000,000 number and ends with, “I am sure that I can rely on your sense of fair play as a sportsman and responsible public figure to provide me with the information requested.”

Milton Sacks’ letter was just the sort of challenge that Robinson seemed to always rise to, and his hand-written 2-page response does just that. Written on his personal stationary, Robinson begins with a sentence of pleasantries but quickly gets right down to business: “I was surprised by your sensitivity. How can you say 6,000,000 murdered Jews seemed insignificant regardless of the number of slaves killed. What difference does a number make one would have been too many and it seems to me you are overly sensitive and it does surprise me. I resent your inference and usually say to “hell” with individuals who feel as you do about the fact a 140,000,000 blacks were killed.”

Robinson then restrained himself in order to invite Sacks to call the following week whereupon he will present his sources for the 140,000,000 number given during his Paterson talk. That said, Robinson revisits his displeasure at Sacks’ letter, writing, “I don’t understand you but I guess you have your reason but you know Mr Sachs as a Black man 6,000,000 Jews killed disturbs me as well as the number of slaves killed. I don’t really care to prove my sense of fair play but I wonder when you get the information what you intend to do with it. I don’t really care that you think I am exaggerating or that I am a ‘liar.’” Robinson ends the letter with, “What did you want me to say in answer to the question regarding my information? When you get it you won’t believe it any way. I am myself responsible I don’t go around making statements for the sake of making noise nor to please people. Sincerely, Jackie Robinson.”

Though we have both the ends of the conversation, we do not know if Milton Sacks took Jackie Robinson up on his offer of a phone call and if he did, what was said. What we do have are two men, firm in their convictions, initiating a dialogue. What’s more, it demonstrates that what history has always shown: Jackie Robinson was not one to duck a conflict, and that he stood by his convictions no matter who the antagonist. To Robinson, this was true both on and off the ballfield.

This archive contains both Milton Sacks type written letter and mailing envelope along with Jackie Robinson’s hand-written response and mailing envelope. Both pieces show toning from age and folds from mailing. Robinson’ letter is written in bright blue pen and his signature is strong.

Accompanied by a full LOA fom PSA/DNA and Beckett Authentication Services

Estimate: $125,000+

Visit this story by Sports Collector's Daily for even more details on this historic piece:

Current Bidding (Reserve Has Been Met)
Minimum Bid: $25,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $70,745
Number Bids: 7
Auction closed on Saturday, April 3, 2021.
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