A year before the Giants moved from New York to San Francisco, their fans envisioned their first baseman would be Jackie Robinson. Rookie Bill White played first base in 1956, hitting 22 homers, but was drafted into the Army and wouldn't play in 1957. The Giants needed a replacement and agreed on Dec. 13, 1956, to send pitcher Dick Littlefield and $30,000 to Brooklyn for Robinson, with the idea he'd also boost attendance. Robinson never played again. It wasn't because he was traded to the Giants and felt ill will about joining the Dodgers' chief rival, which is a common belief. Fact is, he wasn't going to play anywhere in 1957 despite coming off a .275 season. Approaching 38, he had accepted a vice president job with a New York restaurant chain and sold an exclusive first-person story of his retirement plans to Look magazine, which wasn't hitting the newsstands until January. Robinson, who had to keep his retirement and new gig a secret, wrote a letter to Giants owner Horace Stoneham, saying, "I assure you that my retirement has nothing to do with my trade to your organization. From all I have heard from people who have worked with you it would have been a pleasure to have been in your organization." The Giants offered him $60,000, a significant raise, to reconsider. "I did have some vague second thoughts," Robinson wrote in his 1972 autobiography, "I Never Had It Made," in which he also called Walter O'Malley, who replaced Branch Rickey as principal owner in the early '50s, "viciously antagonistic." He added, "But when (Dodgers exec Buzzie) Bavasi told the press that I was doing this to get more money out of (the Giants), I wouldn't give (the Dodgers) a chance to tell me I told you so, and my baseball career was over."
Why Robinson turned down Giants
San Francisco Chronicle | Apr 17