In a remarkable piece of history, a handwritten letter penned by baseball legend Jackie Robinson has emerged, shedding light on a passionate exchange between the athlete and a disgruntled fan over remarks made about the Holocaust in early 1969.
Now, this historic artifact is being offered for sale at a price of $150,000.
The letter, dated February 28, 1969, was addressed to Milton Sacks, a Jewish man who attended a talk given by Robinson at a bank in New Jersey on February 24, 1969. Sacks, clearly irked by some of Robinson’s comments during the event, wrote a letter expressing his discontent.
“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,'” Sacks wrote, highlighting his belief that Robinson downplayed the significance of the Holocaust.
Furthermore, Sacks challenged Robinson to provide the source of his statistics on the number of Africans who died during the era of slavery.
According to a local New Jersey newspaper that covered the event, Robinson had discussed the mass murders of Jews during World War II, but also made a statement about an estimated 140 million blacks being killed during the slave trading years.
The article reported that Robinson stated, “That figure was the population of the United States in 1945,” emphasizing the need for contemplation on this matter.
In response to Sacks’ letter, Jackie Robinson, using his personal “JACKIE ROBINSON” letterhead, composed a handwritten reply that revealed his passionate stance on the issue.
After extending a customary greeting, Robinson expressed his surprise at Sacks’ sensitivity, stating, “How can you say 6,000,000 murdered Jews seemed insignificant regardless of the number of slaves killed.”
He further challenged the notion that a difference in numbers should impact the gravity of the atrocities committed. “What difference does a number make? One would have been too many, and it seems to me you are overly sensitive,” Robinson wrote.
He continued, “I resent your inference and usually say to ‘hell’ with individuals who feel as you do about the fact 140,000,000 blacks were killed.”
In an unexpected turn, Robinson invited Sacks to call him the following week to discuss the matter further and reveal his sources. Unfortunately, it remains unclear whether the conversation between the two ever took place.
The sale of this historically significant letter also includes Sacks’ typed letter to Jackie, which captures the essence of the exchange from the disgruntled fan’s perspective.
Jackie Robinson, revered as a 6-time All-Star and the 1949 NL MVP, holds an indelible place in the annals of American sports history.
Breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier in 1947 as the first African American player, his contributions transcended the realm of athletics, making him one of the most important figures of all-time.