For more than 40 years, big-league rookies were asked to fill out a questionnaire about themselves and their goals and dreams in Major League Baseball.
Their standard answers revolved around winning the World Series, playing in a MLB All-Star game or setting a long-held record.
Not Jackie Robinson. He wanted to make history, which he did by breaking the major league color barrier in 1947.
Robinson, who starred for the Brooklyn Dodgers, filled out his questionnaire in March 1946, a month before his professional debut with the minor-league Montreal Royals. When asked about his baseball ambitions in the questionnaire provided by the American Baseball Bureau, Robinson wrote: “To open door for Negroes in Organized Ball.”
Heritage Sports Vice President Dan Imler calls Robinson’s questionnaire “his manifesto.”
“It’s the only item where he’s making a declaration, in his own hand, of his desire to break the color barrier in baseball,” he said in a Heritage news release. “Jackie’s questionnaire … clearly shows a much bigger objective.”
Robinson’s questionnaire, which has been cited often in books about one of baseball’s most influential players, was a highlight of the famous Barry Halper Collection that was auctioned in 1999. Twenty-three years later, the 1946 questionnaire is being offered in Heritage Auctions’ Feb. 26-27 Winter Platinum Sports Auction. The framed document bears a sticker from its 1999 Sotheby’s sale and has been authenticated by both PSA and Beckett.
The document is among nearly 50 historic Robinson and Brooklyn Dodger items being offered, all of them from a New York collector who spent years collecting memorabilia from such historic moments.
“Jackie Robinson has always been a foundational figure in our field, but I think the appreciation for him and his associated memorabilia has grown exponentially over the last five to 10 years,” Imler says. “People have really woken up to his historical impact, and the interest in his elite material has accelerated at a greater rate than for any other figure. The timing of these items coming to auction only adds to the excitement, because there’s such a feverish demand for critically important Jackie Robinson items right now.”
The auction features such historic Robinson and Dodgers items as a Robinson-signed baseball; a Gil Hodges’ signed 1951 contract; a 1946 Heilbroner Baseball Bureau Information card filled out and signed by Robinson before his Royals debut; and such Robinson cards as his 1948 Leaf rookie card graded PSA NM-MT 8.
It also features a ticket stub from Robinson’s major league debut at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947. Graded good by PSA, the rare ticket is from one of the most significant moments in baseball history.
“The bearer of that ticket saw something extraordinary: Jackie Robinson’s professional debut, one of the most important moments in the history of sports — arguably the most important,” Imler says. “That ticket stub, which is so scarce, really puts you in the moment.”
Another intriguing item is a copy of Robinson’s book, “Wait Til Next Year,” which he inscribed to Dodgers teammate and friend Pee Wee Reese. The inscription reads: “5-13-60, ‘Pee Wee’ whether you are willing to admit what your being just a great guy meant a great deal to my career, I want you to know how much I feel it meant. May I take this opportunity to say a great big thanks and I sincerely hope all the things you want in life be yours. Best to the family. Sincerely, Jackie Robinson.”
The book is from Reese’s personal collection and originally auctioned 20 years ago by Imler.
“When I opened it and read this inscription, I got chills,” Imler said. “It’s just unbelievable, this heartfelt acknowledgement to the captain who stood by him. I am just thrilled to see it again.”