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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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When I read Collier's story, I remembered how Sandy had told me the night before that he couldn't wait any longer to announce the retirement, that somebody was coming out with the story and he wanted to give all the reporters a chance. Now it seemed to me that if somebody was coming out with the story, it must have been because Sandy had tipped them off. So he was being forced to announce his retirement the next day because of an action he had taken himself. That seemed to me to be insufficient reason for treating Walter O'Malley discourteously.

On the other hand, I still thought I knew Sandy Koufax very well. He had disappointed me twice in his life: once when he said a few uncomplimentary and inaccurate things in his book, and now in giving the back of his hand to the man we both worked for. Weighed against those two annoyances, there were so many times when Sandy had put all of us in the Dodger organization deep in his debt that the only emotion I had left after his retirement was sadness. Not just the Dodger fan's sadness that the big meal ticket was gone for good, but the sadness of losing a personal friend on a sour note. I felt rotten about it. I wished there was some way it could all be replayed, with pomp and ceremony in the Dodger office and a brass band and everybody making noble speeches about how much Sandy had meant to all of us and to baseball. Instead, the finest pitcher the game had ever known wound up announcing his retirement in a hotel room with his lawyer at his side and not a Dodger to be seen.

I brooded about it for a week. I brooded about it, in fact, until Thanksgiving night, when just as I sat down to a big holiday meal with the family, the phone rang.

"Buzzie?" It was Sandy, and I put my hand over the phone and said in a stage whisper: "It's Sandy!"

"What's the big idea, interrupting my Thanksgiving dinner?" I said as gruffly as I could.

Sandy said, "I just called to wish you and Evit and all the family a happy Thanksgiving."

"Well," I said, "The same to you, Sandy." I didn't say a whole lot else. But I was as glad as if I had heard from the President.

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