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THE GREAT HOLDOUT
Buzzie Bavasi
May 15, 1967
The outspoken general manager of the Dodgers, currently baseball's most successful executive, begins a four-part series on his joys and troubles in the front office with an account of the famous contract hassle in which pitching stars Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale 'came at me as a pair'
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May 15, 1967

The Great Holdout

The outspoken general manager of the Dodgers, currently baseball's most successful executive, begins a four-part series on his joys and troubles in the front office with an account of the famous contract hassle in which pitching stars Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale 'came at me as a pair'

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We had a long talk, and there was no doubt about it: Sandy was through. As I remember, I made a little speech about how much he had meant to the Dodgers and how much he had meant to me personally, and I said: "Sandy, I hate to see you go, but I have to admit you're making sense. And as far as waiting until the winter meetings is concerned, it won't make that much difference anyway. All the other clubs know you're going to retire, if not this year then next year, and they're not going to give us any pitchers anyway." I said, "You've got money in the bank, you're a young man, you've got a chance to make some money, and there's no sense staying in baseball and jeopardizing your future."

You can't imagine a friendlier meeting of the minds. We were in total agreement. I was amazed later when the stories came out explaining how I had demanded that Sandy wait until December and Sandy had said the Dodgers and Bavasi could go to hell and he was announcing right away. Just plain bull!

At the end of our friendly talk, Sandy said, "I'd like to make the announcement tomorrow."

Well, all of the Dodgers except me and Sandy and one or two others were still in Japan, and I suggested to Sandy that it would be a nice gesture to Mr. O'Malley to wait until they came back several days later. He said that would be fine with him, and we agreed that Sandy's final press conference would be on Wednesday, November 23, the day before Thanksgiving, in the Dodger office. That was eight days away. I called the caterer, tipped off a few of my friends to make no plans for that date, and everything's set.

About 7 o'clock on Thursday evening, two days after our little talk and a week before Thanksgiving, Sandy calls me at home and says, "Buzzie, I've changed my mind. Let's have the press conference tomorrow."

I was flabbergasted, and I was blunt. I said, "I'm not having it tomorrow!"

"Why not?"

I said, "Sandy, Mr. O'Malley will still be in Japan. Can't you see we can't have him picking up a Japanese newspaper and reading how his star pitcher retired? You've got to give Walter a chance to take part in something as important as this, Sandy. I think we both owe it to him." I don't know whether I was right or wrong, but I felt strongly about what I was saying. I didn't think that something that started with a handshake 11 years before should end so coldly now.

Sandy said, "It'll be O.K. as long as you're there, won't it, Buzzie?"

I said, "How can I be there without Mr. O'Malley? That would look twice as bad."

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