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Branch Rickey


Who was Branch Rickey? It's a well known fact that Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in major league baseball in the 20th century, and that Roberto Clemente was the first Latino player. However if it wasn't for Branch Rickey it probably wouldn't have happened. Born on December 20, 1881 in Stockdale Ohio, Branch Rickey attended attended Ohio Wesleyan College where he was a catcher in the baseball team. He started his professional career in 1905 when he played for the St. Louis Browns. He wasn't very good with a batting average below .200 and not being able to throw very well. While he played he also coach baseball between 1904 and 1905, and again while he attended the University of Michigan while he worked for his LL.B

In 1913 Rickey came back to the St.Louis Browns as front office executive and in the last 12 games in the season, their manager. The Browns were under Rickey's management for two years and both years finishing under .500. In World War I, Rickey was an officer in the US Army in France. He was in charge of a chemical training unit in which baseball players Ty Cobbs and Christy Mathewson were part of. He returned in 1919 to work for the Browns but because he couldn't get along with the boss, Phil Ball, he left to work for the Cardinals. There he became team president and manager. In 1920 he gave up his seat as president of the team but still managed them , but was fired in 1925.His experience as manager had been a somwhat inferior, despite the wins, but he was still involved in baseball. He invested in minor league clubs to have players ready to be recruited by the Cardinals. This would lead to what would be called the "Farm System", which was soon adopted by other major league teams,

In 1942 when Brooklyn Dodgers manager Larry McPhail (and also a very friend of Branch) enlisted in the army, Rickey was hired to be president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. With the Brooklyn Dodgers he developed many things that we see in baseball today. For example, full time spring training facilities with batting cages, pitching machines and batting helmets.Also with a collaboration with statistician, Allan Roth, he helped develop the use of statistical analysis in baseball that were both reliable and quantifiable.


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Though it was never written anywhere that black players that black players could not be in major league baseball, intergration of the league was openly shot down by baseball leaders. However in 1943 Branch Rickey was given the okay from the Dodgers' Board of Directors to go looking for the right player. Branch Rickey found Jackie Robinson. He signed him on to the minor league contract on August 28, 1945. He assigned him to the Montreal Royals, the Dodger's international affiliates, for their 1946 season. There he became their star hitter and led them to the league championship. Branch Rickey was determined to break the color barrier that had formed in baseball, because after all it wasn't a written rule that was keeping black players from joining the major league, it was the unwillingmess of the bosses. Rickey knew that Robinson would face a lot of discrimination, and that's why when they met he made Robinson agree that no matter how badly he was treated , Robinson would never fight back. When Jackie Robinson agreed, Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. His endevours paid off as, Jackie Robinson became baseball's first Rookie of the Year.

Branch Rickey ended his baseball career with the Dodgers in 1950 when his contract ended in 1950. He went on to manage the Pittsburg Pirates, but had to retire in 1955 due to health problems.He died on December 9, 1965 in Columbia, Missouri. In 1967 he was inducted in Baseball's Hall of Fame for his contributions to baseball.


Works Cited

http://baseballhall.org/hof/rickey-branch

http://www.americanmemorabilia.com/Auction_Item.asp?Auction_ID=10303&p=0&s=CurrBid+DESC%2C+RandNo+ASC&t=Closed&c=&q=&offset=100

Polner, Murray, and Rickey, Branch. Branch Rickey: A Biography