The Pittsburgh millionaire lost his bet, and you can verify that in the National League archives. I read the official transfer papers myself; Rickey got exactly $50,001 out of the Pirates for a banjohitting infielder then playing on the Dodger farm at Forth Worth. Monty Basgall was his name, and Rickey had somehow convinced the Pittsburgh people that this was the fellow they desperately needed to plug up their porous infield. After a fairly brief flop with the Pirates, Monty came back like a homing pigeon to the fort and is now a Dodger coach.
Rickey boasted more about that suit he had won from Galbreath than about the dozens of one-sided deals he put over. Branch was notoriously sloppy about his clothes, and it had been written that he often looked like an unmade bed. As the Old Man talked, with gestures, he spilled a lot of food, which made Fresco Thompson observe, "Everything the boss eats looks well on him."
But the Galbreath suit was something else; Rickey was extremely careful of it and wore it everywhere so that he could bring up the yarn that went with it.
This story has a fitting conclusion. Galbreath eventually hired Rickey to run his entire Pittsburgh organization, even though he had accused the Old Man of goldbricking him! It proved expensive, for Branch ran up $2 million in losses at Pittsburgh in the fifties while he installed a youth movement.
That must have been painful for Galbreath.
Even more painful was Rickey's decision to sell down the river Ralph Kiner, the motionless outfielder who had been the darling of Pittsburgh's fans and newspapermen through the bleak years because he hit home runs.
Then Galbreath hit bingo.
When Bill Mazeroski stung the home run for the Pirates that won the 1960 World Series from the Yankees, the pains and debts that Rickey had caused were forgiven across the board.
Galbreath unashamedly ascended to Cloud Nine as Pittsburgh went stark, raving mad.
Forgotten were the Derby winners, the spires and towers and other exciting skyscrapers on his drawing board; erased were the regrets about the dozens of deals that had flivvered, the millions that had been squandered.
Galbreath, the man who had conquered the worlds of finance, steel, real estate, and horseflesh, dramatically announced:
"This is the greatest day of my entire life!"
That, in a nutshell, is what it takes to make a magnate, one of the Lords of Baseball.
From The Lords of Baseball: A Wry Look at a Side of the Game the Fan Seldom Sees -- The Front Office by Harold Parrott.
Copyright © 2001 by The Bonfire Foundation. Excerpted with permission.