One of our favorite sites to check out for material — old, out of print books mostly — is abebooks.com, a place that a used-book store owner turned us onto several years ago.
A recent search for specificially-autographed books led us in a strange direction.
Such as Ernest Hemingway and the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Here’s a document for sale (linked here) — just $12,500, plus $8 shipping — that a New York bookseller has: A typed letter from 1942, signed by “Ernie,” to Hemingway’s boxing coach and trainer, George Brown, regarding a visit he had recently in Cuba from several Dodgers — including a fight he had with pitcher Hugh Casey. It had to be during the team’s spring training in March, and it had to be some interesting meeting.
The text of the letter:
“Early this morning I though of sending you a wire to see if you could come down and get me in shape in about ten days to fight a guy named Hughey Casey who pitches for the Dodgers. We went five one-minute ones last night and I was under the impression that I needed a lot of work in order to come up against Casey again.
(He includes a pencilled-in note: “Maybe he still thinks he can beat me but I really know he can’t if I get out and run and lay off. Have drunk very little all month except twice and have been feeling good”)
“But when I saw him today it looks as though there won’t have to be any again. So it is all right. Marty [Martha Gellhorn] is still very sore about it on account of it taking place in the living room which it seems took a lot of trouble to construct and maintain and will perhaps never be quite so good again.
(Another pencilled-in note: “My left middle tow is broke but otherwise nothing but lots of loose skin on all the old marbles in my mouth. I had him down twice and he hit me with everything he had all the time and it didn’t do me any harm. You would have enjoyed it. All the punches landed and there were lots of them he being a crowder like I have become”)
“There are a lot of really good guys on the Dodgers (he pencilled in: “Casey, Billy Herman, Augie Gulan, Rizzo, Art Davis, Larry French”). We have shot pigeons against them three times and have now won $115 odd from them in the three shoots, and I would hate to think that any bitterness had sprung up from that.”
(A final pencilled post script: “Don’t say anything about the Casey business. REALLY. It was one of those good ones not the publicity kind. I know I can beat him because he is throwing hundreds of right hands. He is one of those good Irishmen that likes to fight and is sure he can beat anybody.”
This kind of sets straight some reports we’ve read that Hemingway challenged Casey in 1948 (linked here), unless that was some kind of rematch.
The same bookseller has this Hemingway note (linked here) for $10,000.
From June, 1942, Hemingway refers to a visit from the Brooklyn Dodgers during that summer, where they spoke of Leo Durocher, the team’s player-manager from 1939-1945:
“That Saturday Evening Post of May 17 didn’t get here unitl yesterday. I read the story right away. The player it refers to is who you think all right. One night I was out with Billy Herman, Larry French, Curt Davis and Augie Galan and were talking about the man in question and how much he was loved and admired by all who work under him (all the players hate his guts) and they asked if I knew he started out as a thief. If he wasn’t he could certainly get himself a nice chunk of money by sueing the man who wrote the story.”
Please, Papa, more details …