Branch Rickey

Wesley Branch Rickey (December 20, 1881 – December 9, 1965) was an American baseball player and sports executive. He was perhaps best known for breaking Major League Baseball's color barriers by signing black player Jackie Robinson, as well as for creating the framework for the modern minor league farm system, for encouraging the Major Leagues to add new teams through his involvement in the proposed Continental League, and for introducing the batting helmet. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967, two years after his death.

Rickey played in MLB for the St. Louis Browns and New York Highlanders from 1905 through 1907. After struggling as a player, Rickey returned to college, where he learned about administration from Philip Bartelme. Returning to MLB in 1913, Rickey embarked on a successful managing and executive career with the St. Louis Browns, the St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals elected him to their team Hall of Fame in 2014.

Rickey also had a career in football, as a player for the professional Shelby Blues and as a coach at Ohio Wesleyan University and Allegheny College. His many achievements and deep Christian faith[1] earned him the nickname "the Mahātmā."

Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey 1912
Rickey in 1912
Catcher / Manager / Executive
Born: December 20, 1881
Portsmouth, Ohio
Died: December 9, 1965 (aged 83)
Columbia, Missouri
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 16, 1905, for the St. Louis Browns
Last MLB appearance
August 25, 1914, for the St. Louis Browns
MLB statistics
Batting average.239
Home runs3
Runs batted in39
Games managed1,277
Managerial record597–664
Winning %.473
As player

As manager

As general manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeterans Committee
Branch Rickey
Battling Bishops
Career information
CollegeOhio Wesleyan University
University of Michigan
Career history
As coach
1904–1905Allegheny College
1907–1908Ohio Wesleyan University
1910–1913University of Michigan
As player
1902–1903Shelby Blues
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branchUnited States Army seal U.S. Army
Years of service1917–1918
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Major
UnitChemical Warfare Service
1st Gas Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War I
Western Front

Early life

Rickey was born in Stockdale, Ohio, the son of Jacob Frank Rickey and Emily (née Brown). Rickey was a relative of Beth Rickey, a Louisiana political activist.[2]

He graduated from Valley High School in Lucasville, Ohio, in 1899, and he was a catcher on the baseball team at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he obtained his B.A. Rickey was a member of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.[3]

Rickey was a Master Mason in Tuscan Lodge #240 in Saint Louis. After arriving in Brooklyn, Rickey joined Montauk Masonic Lodge #286 in Brooklyn.[4]

Stricken with tuberculosis, he took the "cure" in Saranac Lake, New York in 1908 and 1909 at the Trudeau Sanatorium. Later, he moved into the Jacob Schiff cottage.


Professional playing career

Before his front office days, Rickey played both football and baseball professionally. He played in both baseball's minor and major leagues.


In 1902, Rickey played professional football for the Shelby Blues of the "Ohio League", the direct predecessor to the modern National Football League (NFL.) Rickey often played for pay with Shelby while he was attending Ohio Wesleyan. During his time with Shelby, Rickey became friends with his teammate Charles Follis, who was the first black professional football player. He also played against him on October 17, 1903, when Follis ran for a 70-yard touchdown against the Ohio Wesleyan football team. After that game Rickey praised Follis, calling him "a wonder."[5] It is also possible that Follis' poise and class under the pressures of such racial tension, as well as his exceptional play in spite of it, could have inspired Rickey to sign Jackie Robinson decades later.[6]Although Rickey stated his inspiration for bringing Jackie Robinson into baseball was the ill-treatment he saw received by his black catcher Charles Thomas on the Ohio Wesleyan baseball team coached by Rickey in 1903 and 1904 and the gentlemanly way Thomas handled it. When Rickey signed Robinson, Charles Thomas' story was made known in the papers[7]


In 1903, Rickey signed a contract with Terre Haute, Indiana of the Class B Central League, making his professional debut on June 20. Rickey was assigned to Le Mars, Iowa of the Class D Iowa–South Dakota League. During this period, Rickey also spent two seasons–1904 and 1905—coaching baseball, basketball and football and teaching at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania where he also served as Athletic Director.

Rickey debuted in the major leagues, with the St. Louis Browns in 1905. Sold to the New York Highlanders in 1907, Rickey could neither hit nor field while with the club, and his batting average dropped below .200. One opposing team stole 13 bases in one game while Rickey was behind the plate, setting a record which still stands a century later. Rickey also injured his throwing arm and retired as a player after just one year.

Return to college

Rickey attended the University of Michigan, where he received his LL.B.[8]

While at Michigan, Rickey applied for the job as Michigan's baseball coach. Rickey asked every alumnus he had ever met to write letters to Philip Bartelme, the school's athletic director, on his behalf. Bartelme recalled, "Day after day those letters came in."[9] Bartelme was reportedly impressed with Rickey's passion for baseball and his idealism about the proper role of athletics on a college campus.[10] Bartelme convinced the dean of the law school that Rickey could handle his law studies while serving as the school's baseball coach.[11] Bartelme reportedly called Rickey into his office to tell him he had the job if only "to put a stop to those damn letters that come in every day."[12] The hiring also marked the beginning of a lifelong friendship and business relationship between Rickey and Bartelme. Bartelme and Rickey worked together for most of the next 35 years, and in 1944 a California newspaper noted: "He and Rickey have had a close association in baseball ever since Bartelme was head of the athletic department of the University of Michigan where Rickey took to baseball just as a means to build up his failing health." During his four years as head baseball coach from 1910 - 1913 his record was 68-32-4.[13]

Return to professional baseball

Branch Rickey 1906
Rickey batting for the Browns in 1906.

Rickey returned to the big leagues in 1913, as a front office executive with the Browns. He was responsible for signing young George Sisler. Rickey became the team's manager for the final 12 games of the season, and managed the team for two more full seasons. But the Browns finished under .500 both years.

World War I (1917–19)

Rickey served as an officer in the U.S. Army in France during World War I. He commanded a chemical training unit that included Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson.[14] Rickey served in the 1st Gas Regiment during the war, and spent over four months as a member of the Chemical Warfare Service.[15]

St. Louis Cardinals (1919–42)

He then returned to St. Louis in 1919, but clashed with new Browns owner Phil Ball and jumped to the crosstown rivals Cardinals, to become team president and manager. In 1920, Rickey gave up the team presidency to the Cards' new majority owner, Sam Breadon.

The Cardinals wore uniforms for the first time that featured the two familiar cardinal birds perched on a baseball bat over the name "Cardinals" with the letter "C" of the word hooked over the bat in 1922. The concept of this pattern originated in a Presbyterian church in Ferguson, Missouri, at which Rickey was speaking. He noticed a colorful cardboard arrangement featuring two cardinal birds perched on a branch on a table. The arrangement's designer was a woman named Allie May Schmidt. Schmidt's father, a graphic designer, assisted Rickey in creating the logo that is part of a familiar staple on Cardinals uniforms.[16]

Under Rickey's leadership as on-the-field manager for six relatively mediocre years, the Cardinals posted winning records from 1921 to 1923. Breadon fired him early in the 1925 season. However, he could not deny Rickey's acumen for player development, and offered to let him stay to run the front office. An embittered Rickey stated, "You can't do this to me, Sam. You are ruining me." "No", Breadon responded. "I am doing you the greatest favor one man has ever done to another."[16]

Rickey had wisely invested in several minor league baseball clubs, using them to develop future talent and supplement the Cardinals major league roster. At 43 years of age upon his firing, he had been a player, manager and executive in the Major Leagues. However, there had been little indication to this point that he would ever belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although he was not the first executive titled as a general manager in Major League Baseball history — his actual title was business manager — through his activities, including inventing and building the farm system, Rickey came to embody the position of the baseball operations executive who mastered scouting, player acquisition and development and business affairs, which is the definition of the modern GM.

Second baseman Rogers Hornsby, winner of two Major League Baseball Triple Crowns, replaced Rickey to become a player-manager, and in 1926, his first full year as manager, Hornsby then led the Cardinals to their first World Series championship.

Development of the farm system

Branch Rickey Cardinals
Rickey with the Cardinals

By 1930, Rickey's Cardinals, known as the "Gashouse Gang", were the class of the National League. They won 101 games in 1931 and won the World Series in seven games. The star of the 1931 World Series was rookie Pepper Martin, one of the first Cardinal stars that came from Branch's minor league system. Soon, other minor league graduates joined the team, among them future hall of famers Dizzy Dean and Joe Medwick, nicknamed "Ducky", and Dean's brother Paul "Daffy" Dean. The Deans and Medwick were integral parts of the 1934 Cardinals, who won the franchise's third World Series title.

Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the Commissioner of Baseball, was concerned that Rickey's minor league system was going to ruin baseball by destroying existing minor league teams, and he twice released over 70 Cardinal minor leaguers. Despite Landis' efforts, Rickey's minor league system stayed in existence, and similar systems were adopted by every major league team within a few years. Arguably, the farm system saved the minor leagues, by keeping them necessary after the television age began and minor league attendance figures declined.

Rickey continued to develop the Cardinals up until the early 1940s. In his final year at St. Louis, 1942, the Cardinals had their best season in franchise history, winning 106 games and the World Series title. The team was led by a new crop of players developed by the Cardinals, two of whom, Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial, became Hall of Famers; and several others, among them future MVP Marty Marion, who were among the best at their position during their eras. Even their manager Billy Southworth was a product of their farm system.

Brooklyn Dodgers (1942–50)

Rickey was a good friend of Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Larry MacPhail, himself a sound baseball man. MacPhail enlisted in the army to serve in World War II after the 1942 season, and the Dodgers hired Branch Rickey to replace him as President and GM, ending a tenure of over two decades with the Cardinals. In 1945, the Dodger ownership reorganized, with Rickey acquiring 25 percent of Dodger stock to become an equal partner with three other owners.

Further innovations

Rickey continued to innovate in his time with Brooklyn. He was responsible for the first full-time spring training facility, in Vero Beach, Florida, and encouraged the use of now-commonplace tools such as the batting cage, pitching machines, and batting helmets. He also pioneered the use of statistical analysis in baseball (what is now known as sabermetrics), when he hired statistician Allan Roth as a full-time analyst for the Dodgers in 1947. After viewing Roth's evidence, Rickey promoted the idea that on-base percentage was a more important hitting statistic than batting average.[17] While working under Rickey, Roth was also the first person to provide statistical evidence that platoon effects were real and quantifiable.

Breaking the color barrier

Rickey's most memorable act with Dodgers involved signing Jackie Robinson, thus breaking baseball's color barrier, which had been an unwritten rule since the 1880s. This policy had continued under a succession of baseball leaders, including Landis, who was openly opposed to integrating Major League Baseball for what he regarded as legitimate reasons. Landis died in 1944, but Rickey had already set the process in motion, having sought (and gained) approval from the Dodgers Board of Directors in 1943 to begin the search for "the right man."

On August 28, 1945, Rickey signed Robinson to a minor league contract. Robinson had been playing in the Negro leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs. On October 23, 1945, it was announced that Robinson would join the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers' International League affiliate, for the 1946 season. He would end up as the league's batting champion, and led the Royals to a dominant league championship.[18]

There was no statute officially banning blacks from baseball, only a universally recognized unwritten rule which no club owner was prepared to break that was perpetuated by culturally entrenched racism and a desire by club owners to be perceived as representing the values and beliefs of everyday American white men.[18] The service of black Americans in the Second World War, and the celebrated pre-war achievements of black athletes in American sports, such as Joe Louis in boxing and Jesse Owens in track, helped pave the way for the cultural shift necessary to break the barrier.

Rickey knew that Robinson would face racism and discrimination.[19] Rickey made it clear in their momentous first meeting[20] that he anticipated wide-scale resistance both inside and outside baseball to opening its doors to Negroes. As predicted by Rickey, right from the start Robinson faced obstacles among his teammates and other teams' players. No matter how harsh the white people were towards Robinson, he could not retaliate. Robinson had agreed with Rickey[21] not to lose his temper and jeopardize the chances of all the blacks who would follow him if he could help break down the barriers. Usually placing fourth in team stats he still made history ending up in Baseball's Hall of Fame.

Red Barber recounted in Ken Burns's documentary Baseball that Rickey's determination to desegregate Major League Baseball was born out of a combination of idealism and astute business sense. The idealism was at least partially rooted in an incident involving a team for which Rickey worked early on. While managing at Ohio Wesleyan University, a black player, Charles Thomas, was extremely upset at being refused accommodation, because of his race, at the hotel where the team stayed. Though an infuriated Rickey managed to get him into the hotel for the night, he never forgot the incident and later said, "I may not be able to do something about racism in every field, but I can sure do something about it in baseball." The business element was based on the fact that the Negro Leagues had numerous star athletes, and logically, the first Major League team to hire them would get first pick of the players at an attractive price. At the time, Mexican brewery czar Jorge Pasquel was raiding America for black talent (e.g., Satchel Paige), as well as disgruntled white players, for the Mexican League with the idea of creating an integrated league that could compete on a talent level with the U.S. major leagues. However idealistic, Rickey did not compensate Monarchs ownership for the rights to obtain Robinson,[22]:p.37 nor did he pay for rights to Don Newcombe, who would also join the Dodgers from a Negro leagues club. Rickey also attempted to sign Monte Irvin but Newark Eagles business owner Effa Manley refused to allow Irvin to leave her club without compensation. When she threatened to sue him in court, Rickey stopped the pursuit of Irvin, who would later sign with the New York Giants.[23]:p.277

Amid much fanfare, Jackie debuted, and turned out to be a success. Robinson was baseball's first rookie of the year, and while he was often jeered by opposing baseball players, managers, and fans, he became extremely popular with the American public. His success became the crowning achievement of Rickey's illustrious career. His Dodgers would make the World Series that year. Although they lost in seven games to the New York Yankees, Rickey's vision and action had set the stage for the Dodgers to be contenders for decades to come. And it opened the door for other leaders like Larry Doby of the Cleveland Indians, who integrated the American League in 1947, as well.

Later career with Dodgers

From 1945 through 1950, Rickey was one of four owners of the Dodgers, each with one quarter of the franchise. When one of the four (John L. Smith) died, Walter O'Malley took control of that quarter. Also in 1950, Branch Rickey's contract as Dodger president expired, and Walter O'Malley decided that were Rickey to retain the job, almost all of Rickey's power would be gone; for example, he would no longer take a percentage of every franchise sale; Rickey declined a new contract as President. Then, in order to be a majority owner, O'Malley offered to buy Rickey's portion. Seeing no reason to hold on to the club, Rickey decided to comply. However, in a final act of retaliation against O'Malley, Rickey instead offered the club percentage to a friend for one million dollars. His chances at complete franchise control at risk, O'Malley was forced to offer more money, and Rickey finally sold his portion for $1,050,000.

Pittsburgh Pirates (1951–55)

After leaving the Dodgers, Rickey was offered the position of general manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates, joining them on November 1, 1950. During the 1953 season, the Pirates became the first team to permanently adopt batting helmets on both offense and defense. These helmets resembled a primitive fiberglass "miner's cap". This was the mandate of Rickey, who also owned stock in the company producing the helmets. Under Rickey's orders, all Pirate players had to wear the helmets both at bat and in the field. The helmets became a permanent feature for all Pirate hitters, but within a few weeks the team began to abandon their use of helmets on defense, partly because of their awkwardly heavy feel. Once the Pirates discarded the helmets on defense, the trend disappeared from the game.[24]

After presiding over a last place season with the Pirates, Rickey proposed cutting the pay of power superstar Ralph Kiner. When Kiner objected, Rickey famously quipped, "Son, we could have finished last without you!" Health problems forced Rickey to retire in 1955; in his five full seasons as general manager, the Bucs finished eighth (and last) four times and seventh once. However, Rickey's contributions would help lead to a World Championship for Pittsburgh in 1960. In 2000, author Andrew O'Toole noted, "The core of the 1960 championship team [notably Roberto Clemente, Dick Groat, Bill Mazeroski, Elroy Face and Vern Law, among others] was put together and nurtured by Rickey."[25]

Rickey fast-tracked youngsters like Law and Bob Friend, signed by his predecessor, Roy Hamey, to the majors. He signed Groat off the Duke University campus, drafted Face and Clemente from Brooklyn's minor league system, and his scouts and minor league instructors found Mazeroski and developed him for MLB delivery in 1956. Moreover, Pittsburgh's farm and scouting system would continue to be highly productive into the 1970s, especially in developing Latin American players signed by scout Howie Haak, whom Rickey brought from the Dodgers.

Rickey remained on the Pirate masthead as chairman of the board for almost four full seasons after Joe L. Brown succeeded him as general manager in October of 1955. He also held a small amount of stock in the club. But that association ended in the middle of August 1959, when, nearing his 78th birthday, Rickey took on another challenge as the chief executive of a proposed third major league, the Continental League.

President of Continental League

A significant shift in population from the Eastern and Midwestern United States to the West and South after World War II wreaked havoc with the established 16-team, two-league major league structure, opening up growing markets and triggering a two-decade-long series of franchise relocations beginning in 1953. In 1957, these were dramatized by the transfer of each of New York City's National League teams, the Dodgers and Giants, to California, abandoning their established fan bases. When New York attorney William Shea was unsuccessful in his attempts to attract Senior Circuit teams from smaller markets (including the Pirates) to New York, he announced plans for a third major league in professional baseball, the Continental League, on July 27, 1959, to begin play in April 1961. In addition to New York, the Continental would be represented by clubs in Denver, Houston, Minneapolis–Saint Paul and Toronto, plus three additional markets to round out an eight-team league.[26]

Three weeks after the formation of the new circuit was announced, on August 18, Rickey sold his stake in the Pirates, resigned as board chairman, and signed a 16-month contract to become the first president of the new league at a reported $50,000 annual salary. He immediately led a delegation of Continental League owners to a summit meeting in a Manhattan hotel with Commissioner of Baseball Ford Frick, the presidents of the National and American leagues, and a delegation of MLB club owners. The established leagues were wary of a new challenge to baseball's antitrust law exemption,[27] when the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Emmanuel Celler, a Brooklyn Democrat enraged by his borough's loss of the Dodgers, introduced legislation that would place baseball under antitrust law.[28] This concern led Frick and his entourage to publicly treat the Continental League with respect; at the meeting, Frick asked Rickey and the other league presidents (Warren Giles and Joe Cronin) to form a committee that would set up ground rules to govern the admission of the Continental to eventual equal status with the two major leagues.

As those rules were taking shape, Rickey presided over the admission of the Continental League's three remaining founding franchises: Atlanta, Buffalo and Dallas–Fort Worth. He made public appearances—like being the "mystery guest" on the prime-time TV quiz show What's My Line?—to advance his view that a third, eight-team league would be more beneficial to baseball than expansion of the two existing circuits. But behind the scenes, National and American league owners were working on their own plans to expand their loops and scuttle Rickey's start-up league. In August 1960, they offered the Continental League's owners a deal: each established league would add two new franchises by 1962. In return, they demanded that the new circuit disband.[27] Against Rickey's advice, his owners agreed to the compromise and the new league perished, still on the drawing board.

In 1961, Minneapolis–Saint Paul got a 60-year-old American League franchise, the transferred Washington Senators, with an expansion team replacing them in the capital. In 1962, the New York Mets and Houston Colt .45s were admitted to the Senior Circuit as expansion teams. By 1993, all of the Continental League's cities except Buffalo were in Major League Baseball.

Return to Cardinals

After negotiations broke down in May 1961 that would have seen Rickey take over the Mets as their first president and general manager,[29] he went into temporary retirement. On October 29, 1962, Rickey returned to the Cardinals exactly 20 years to the day he left to become general consultant on the development of Cardinal players and special advisor to owner August A. Busch Jr. He wanted to come home to Missouri after suffering a heart attack in Canada a year earlier and after the death of his son, Branch Jr.[30]

But Rickey's second stint with the Cardinals was marred by controversy. He recommended that Cardinal icon Stan Musial be compelled to retire, even after the eventual Hall of Famer's stellar 1962 season, in which Musial, 41, had finished third in the National League batting race (hitting .330 in 135 games played), and broken Honus Wagner's NL record for career hits. Rickey wrote to Busch: "He can't run, he can't field, and he can't throw. Twenty-five Musials would finish in last place."[31] Musial would play one more campaign before retiring from the field in September 1963.

Rickey also undermined St. Louis general manager Bing Devine, who had begun his baseball career under Rickey in the late 1930s as an office boy. He was a vocal critic of one of Devine's highest profile (and most successful) trades, when he acquired veteran shortstop Groat from Pittsburgh after the 1962 season. Rickey believed that Groat, 32 at the time, was too old.[32] Groat, however, still had two prime years left. He batted .319 (1963) and .292 (1964), and was runner-up in the National League's 1963 Most Valuable Player Award balloting. He was the NL's starting shortstop in both the 1963 and 1964 All-Star games, and helped lead the 1963 Cardinals to a second-place finish. But the 1964 team fell behind in the standings and seemed stalled in fifth place in mid-August. When Busch fired Devine on August 17 and replaced him with Rickey protégé Bob Howsam, the 82-year-old consultant and special advisor was cast as the cause of Devine's downfall.[33] The controversial firing embarrassed Busch when the team Devine assembled caught fire in the season's final six weeks, won the National League pennant, and triumphed in the 1964 World Series. After the season, Busch terminated Rickey's contract, ending his long baseball career.

Dad and Branch near Cincinnati stadium
Rickey near the stadium in Cincinnati


A public speaker in his later years, on November 13, 1965, Rickey collapsed in the middle of a speech in Columbia, Missouri, as he was being elected to the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. He had told a story of physical courage and was about to relate an illustration from the Bible. "Now I'm going to tell you a story from the Bible about spiritual courage," he said. Rickey murmured he could not continue, collapsed and never spoke again. He faltered, fell back into his seat and slipped onto the floor. He never regained consciousness. His brain was damaged when his breathing stopped momentarily, though his heart picked up its rhythm again. Through the next 26 days, hospitalized in a coma, there was little change.

On December 9, at about 10 p.m. he died of heart failure at Boone County Memorial Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, 11 days before his 84th birthday. Branch Rickey was interred at Rush Township Burial Park in Rushtown, Ohio, near where his parents, his widow Jane (who died in 1971), and three of his children (including Branch Rickey Jr., who died from complications of diabetes at age 47 in 1961)[34] also rest. Rickey's grave overlooks the Scioto Valley, about three miles from his boyhood home in Stockdale, Ohio.

Honors and legacy

In addition to Rickey's election to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a contributor in 1967, in 1997 he was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame,[35] in 2009 he was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.[36] In January 2014, the Cardinals announced Rickey among 22 former players and personnel to be inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum for the inaugural class of 2014.[37]

A ballpark in Portsmouth, Ohio, once used by the Portsmouth Explorers, a charter member of the Frontier League before the club folded in 1996, is named in Rickey's honor.[38] The Branch Rickey Arena at Ohio Wesleyan University is also named in his honor.

A section of State Highway 23 in Ohio, running north from the Franklin County border to the city of Delaware, has been named the Branch Rickey Memorial Highway.[39]

In 1992, Rotary International of Denver, Colorado, created the Branch Rickey Award, which is given annually to a Major League Baseball player in recognition of exceptional community service. Outside of Coors Field in Denver is a monument to Rickey by the sculptor George Lundeen, dedicated in 2005, with this simple inscription:

It is not the honor that you take with you but the heritage you leave behind.

Another quotation attributed to Rickey is:

Luck is the residue of design.[40]

His descendants also became involved in baseball: son Branch Jr. was an executive with the Dodgers and Pirates for over two decades prior to his 1961 death, and grandson Branch Rickey III, who served as a farm system director with the Pirates and Cincinnati Reds, has been president of the Pacific Coast League since 1999.[41] A nephew, Charles Hurth, was a longtime minor league executive who served as president of the Double-A Southern Association and, briefly in the spring of 1961, as the first general manager of the Mets when Rickey and the team were still discussing a top role in the New York front office; Hurth and Rickey were ultimately replaced by George Weiss, the former Yankee executive.

Moreover, Rickey's influence continued to loom large after his passing, especially in the National League. One year after his 1965 death, five of the league's ten general managers—Howsam (Cardinals), Devine (Mets), Buzzie Bavasi (Dodgers), Joe L. Brown (Pirates) and Bill DeWitt (Reds), as well as NL president Giles—had at one time worked under Rickey during his long executive career.

In popular culture

See also


  1. ^ Rickey, Branch (1890–1969). "Branch Rickey papers". Library of Congress.
  2. ^ "Tom Sharpe, "Eizabeth Ann 'Beth' Rickey, 1956-2009: David Duke nemesis dies in Santa Fe Activist who helped scuttle neo-Nazi's political career had hoped to rebuild life here"". Santa Fe New Mexican. September 13, 2009. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Redrup, Jessie Dunathan. "Branch Rickey with Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers". Branch Rickey Collection. Ohio Wesleyan University. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  4. ^ "Well Known Freemasons". Grand Lodge of British Columbia. Archived from the original on September 8, 2013.
  5. ^ Roberts, Milt (1980). "Charles Follis" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 2 (1): 1–5. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 27, 2010.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  6. ^ Nash, Kimberly. "Breaking Pro Football's Color Line: The Story of Charles W. Follis". Bleacher Report.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Law Quadrangle Notes" (PDF). Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  9. ^ Murray Polner, Branch B. Rickey (2007). Branch Rickey: A Biography, p. 57. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-2643-8.
  10. ^ Lowenfish, p. 49,
  11. ^ Lowenfish, p. 50.
  12. ^ Polner, p. 57.
  13. ^ "Bartelme Is Scout". Fresno Bee Republican. June 20, 1944.
  14. ^ Baseball (TV series)
  15. ^ Polner, Murray, and Rickey, Branch. Branch Rickey: A Biography, (Google Books), McFarland, 2007, p. 76, (ISBN 0-7864-2643-8).
  16. ^ a b "Theme of the week". Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. Retrieved February 17, 2014.
  17. ^ "Goodby to Some Old Baseball Ideas".
  18. ^ a b Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Major League Baseball. By: Rubinstein, William D., History Today, 00182753, September 2003, Vol. 53, Issue 9.
  19. ^ Beyond the box score: Jackie Robinson, civil rights crusader, Negro History Bulletin, 1995 p. 15.
  20. ^ "Jackie Robinson Breaks Baseball's Color Barrier, 1945".
  21. ^ I never had it made. Jackie Robinson; New York, 1972, p. 54.
  22. ^ Ilan Stavans, ed. (2012). Béisbol. The Ilan Stavans Library of Latino Civilization. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood. ISBN 9780313375132.
  23. ^ Simons, William M. Alvin L. Hall (ed.). The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture, 2000. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0786411201.
  24. ^ "Oakland A's Fan Coalition – Athletics baseball enthusiasts dedicated to watching a winner". July 12, 1980. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
  25. ^ O'Toole, Andrew (2000). Branch Rickey in Pittsburgh: Baseball's Trailblazing General Manager for the Pirates, 1950-1955. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 4. ISBN 0-7864-0839-1.
  26. ^ Spink, J. G. Taylor (1960). "Official Baseball Guide and Record Book". St. Louis, Missouri: Charles C. Spink and Son.
  27. ^ a b Shapiro, Michael (July 22, 2009). "Fifty Years Later, the Continentals Sit in the What-If Drawer". The New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  28. ^ Edmonds, Ed (1994). "Over 40 Years in the On-Deck Circle: Congress and the Baseball Anti-Trust Exemption". NDL Scholarship. South Bend, Indiana: Notre Dame University Law School.
  29. ^ McDonald, Joe (3 January 2015), "What If Branch Rickey Ran the Mets in 1962?"
  30. ^ "Branch Rickey Returns to Cardinals After 20 Years". Nevada, Missouri: Nevada Daily Mail. October 30, 1962. p. 6. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  31. ^ O'Neill, Dan (January 20, 2013). "Musial: Stan's Final Farewell". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  32. ^ Lowenfish, Lee (2007). Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. p. 585. ISBN 978-0-8032-2453-7.
  33. ^ "Why Gussie Busch Fired Bing Devine in the Cardinals' Championship Year". Retrosimba. August 15, 2014. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  34. ^ "Branch Rickey Jr. Dies". The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973). April 11, 1961.
  35. ^ St. Louis Walk of Fame. "St. Louis Walk of Fame Inductees". Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  36. ^ "College Baseball Hall of Fame: Hall of Famers: 2009 Inductees".
  37. ^ Cardinals Press Release (January 18, 2014). "Cardinals establish Hall of Fame & detail induction process". Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  38. ^ "Branch Rickey Park". Shawnee State Bears. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  39. ^ "Branch Rickey Memorial Highway". Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  40. ^ The Yale Book of Quotations, citing The Sporting News, February 21, 1946.
  41. ^ Paisley, Joe (August 5, 2015). "Commissioner Branch Rickey III likes what PCL is doing while watching Colorado Springs Sky Sox lose". TCA Regional News.
  42. ^ Harris, Aisha (September 21, 2012). "Trailer Critic 42". Slate.
  43. ^ "Actress Kelley Jakle of "42"". The McCarthy Project. March 29, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2014.

Further reading

  • Branch Rickey: Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman, by Lee Lowenfish (University of Nebraska Press); winner of the Seymour Medal for 2008, nominee for 2007 CASEY Award, Roy Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf
  • Branch Rickey: A Biography by Murray Polner Atheneum; Signet; and MacFarland, publishers
  • Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin; Viking 2011

External links

1907 New York Highlanders season

The 1907 New York Highlanders season, its fifth in New York and its seventh overall, finished with the team in 5th place in the American League with a record of 70–78. Another notable newcomer was New York's recently acquired left fielder Branch Rickey, who would become well known for integrating Jackie Robinson into the major leagues some four decades later.

1914 St. Louis Browns season

The 1914 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 5th in the American League with a record of 71 wins and 82 losses.

1950 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers struggled for much of the season, but still wound up pushing the Philadelphia Phillies to the last day of the season before falling two games short. Following the season, Branch Rickey was replaced as majority owner/team president by Walter O'Malley, who promptly fired manager Burt Shotton and replaced him with Chuck Dressen. Buzzie Bavasi was also hired as the team's first independent General Manager.

Vin Scully joined the Dodgers' radio and television crew as a play-by-play announcer in 1950; in 2016, Scully entered his 67th consecutive season with the club, the longest such tenure in the history of sports broadcasting, that season was the first wherein his voice, as well as of Red Barber's, was broadcast on television station WOR-TV, making the Dodgers the last New York City MLB team to introduce regular television broadcasts, 11 years following the first broadcasts of 1939.

42 (film)

42 is a 2013 American biographical sports film written and directed by Brian Helgeland about the racial integration of American professional baseball by player Jackie Robinson, who wore jersey number 42 through his Major League career. The film stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson, and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, with Alan Tudyk, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, André Holland, Lucas Black, Hamish Linklater, and Ryan Merriman appearing in supporting roles.

The film received generally positive reviews and grossed over $95 million on a $40 million budget. 42 was released in North America on April 12, 2013.

Branch Barrett Rickey

Branch Barrett Rickey (born November 1, 1945) is the 17th and current President of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), a Triple-A baseball league competing in Minor League Baseball (MiLB). He previously served as the President of the American Association from 1991 to 1997 before the league disbanded in conjunction with the 1998 Major League Baseball expansion and Triple-A realignment.

Branch Rickey Arena

Branch Rickey Arena is a 2,300-seat multi-purpose arena at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, located centrally on campus and adjacent to Edwards Gymnasium. It is home to the Wesleyan Battling Bishops basketball and volleyball teams. It opened in June 1976, replacing Edwards Gymnasium, which was remodeled to become a full-time exercise facility. It was named for the late Branch Rickey, Class of 1904, a major benefactor to the university and a manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Branch Rickey Award

The Branch Rickey Award was given annually to an individual in Major League Baseball (MLB) in recognition of his exceptional community service from 1992 to 2014. The award was named in honor of former player and executive Branch Rickey, who broke the major league color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson, while president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey also created the Knothole Gang, a charity that allowed children to attend MLB games.The award, created by the Rotary Club of Denver in 1991, was first awarded to Dave Winfield in 1992 at their annual banquet. Each MLB team nominates one individual who best exemplifies the Rotary Club motto: "Service Above Self". A vote is then conducted by the national selection committee, which consists of members of the sports media, previous winners of the award, and Rotary district governors in major league cities. Proceeds of the banquet benefit Denver Kids, Inc., a charity for at-risk students who attend Denver Public Schools. Each winner receives a bronze sculpture of a baseball player measuring 24 inches (610 mm), named "The Player", designed by sculptor George Lundeen. A larger version of "The Player", standing 13 feet (4.0 m) tall, was erected at Coors Field in Denver.Winners of the Branch Rickey Award have undertaken different causes. Many winners, including Todd Stottlemyre, Jamie Moyer, John Smoltz, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, and Shane Victorino, worked with children in need. Stottlemyre visited and raised money for a nine-year-old girl who suffered from aplastic anemia and required a bone marrow transplant, while Moyer's foundation raised US$6 million to support underprivileged children. Other winners devoted their work to aiding individuals who had a specific illness, such as Curt Schilling, who raised money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Trevor Hoffman, who lost a kidney as an infant and devoted himself to working with individuals with nephropathy. Also, some winners devoted themselves to work with major disasters and tragedies. Bobby Valentine donated money to charities benefiting victims of the September 11 attacks, while Luis Gonzalez worked with survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Branch Rickey Jr.

Wesley Branch Rickey Jr. (January 31, 1914 – April 10, 1961) was an American front office executive in Major League Baseball. The son of Baseball Hall of Fame club executive Branch Rickey, who among his many achievements invented the farm system and led the movement within baseball to break the color line, Branch Jr. — called "The Twig" by many — was a highly respected farm system director, but never led his own organization. He was the father of Branch Barrett Rickey, widely known as "Branch Rickey III", a longtime baseball executive and the current president of the Pacific Coast League.

After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University, Branch Rickey Jr. entered baseball in 1935 as business manager of the Albany, Georgia Travelers of the Class D Georgia–Florida League, one of the many farm clubs in his father's St. Louis Cardinals organization. In 1939, he joined the archrival Brooklyn Dodgers as farm director, recruited by the then-Brooklyn president, Larry MacPhail. However, in a strange turn of events, when MacPhail resigned at the end of the 1942 season to rejoin the armed forces, he was replaced by Branch Sr., who eventually became a co-owner of the Brooklyn club.

The younger Rickey then worked with his father as the Dodgers' farm director, and, after 1947, assistant general manager, until the end of the 1950 season, when Walter O'Malley acquired controlling interest in the team and forced Rickey Sr., his former partner, out of the Brooklyn organization.

Rickey Sr. then moved to the Pittsburgh Pirates as executive vice president and general manager, with Branch Jr. as the Pirates' vice president and farm system director. The younger Rickey held that post until his premature death in Pittsburgh at age 47 on April 10, 1961. He had long been troubled by diabetes, and hepatitis and pneumonia were also factors in his passing.

Although the 1951–55 reign of Branch Sr. as GM of the Pirates was at the time viewed as a failure, he and Branch Jr. put into place the successful Pittsburgh organization of the 1960s and 1970s. Led by the great Roberto Clemente, drafted by the Rickeys from the Dodgers, the Bucs won the 1960 World Series and the 1971 World Series. Pittsburgh contended through the rest of that decade, winning its last Series in 1979.

Buzzy Wares

Clyde Ellsworth "Buzzy" Wares (March 23, 1886 – May 26, 1964) was an American Major League Baseball shortstop during the second decade of the 20th century and a longtime coach in the Majors. Born in Newberg Township, Michigan, Wares attended Kalamazoo College. He stood 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) (178 cm), weighed 160 pounds (72.6 kg), and threw and batted right-handed.

Wares played only one month and one full season of Major League ball. He came to the St. Louis Browns of the American League late in the 1913 campaign, and stayed through 1914. He appeared in 90 games, and batted .220 in 250 at bats, with 55 hits, no home runs and 24 runs batted in. His manager, however, was Branch Rickey, and when Rickey was the general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League, he hired Wares as a coach in 1930. Wares would remain on the Redbirds' staff through 1952, a string of 23 consecutive seasons, during which time St. Louis won seven NL pennants and five World Series. Wares worked under eight different Cardinal managers in that span.

During his minor league playing career (1905–20), Wares twice led his league in fielding percentage, although he did commit a league-leading 107 errors in 224 games played for Oakland of the Pacific Coast League in 1910. That season, however, Wares led the PCL with 790 assists, and had 1,287 total chances, for a fielding percentage of .917.

Buzzy Wares died at age 78 in South Bend, Indiana.

Charles Follis

Charles W. Follis, a.k.a. "The Black Cyclone," (February 3, 1879 – April 5, 1910) was the first Black professional American football player. He played for the Shelby Blues of the "Ohio League" from 1902 to 1906. On September 16, 1904, Follis signed a contract with Shelby making him the first Black man contracted to play professional football on an integrated team. He was also the first Black catcher to move from college baseball into the Negro Leagues.

Dixie Walker

Fred E. "Dixie" Walker (September 24, 1910 – May 17, 1982) was an outfielder, primarily a right fielder, in Major League Baseball, playing for the New York Yankees (1931, 1933–36), Chicago White Sox (1936–37), Detroit Tigers (1938–39), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939–47) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1948–49). In 11 years in the National League, Walker posted a .310 batting average (in nine seasons in the American League, an average of .295), with 105 total home runs and 1,023 RBIs in 1,905 games.Walker's popularity with the Ebbets Field fans in the 1940s brought him the nickname "The People's Cherce" (so-called, and spelled, because "Choice" in the "Brooklynese" of the mid-20th century frequently was pronounced that way). He was an All-Star in five consecutive years (1943–47) and the 1944 National League batting champion. Walker may be best known for his reluctance to play on the same team as Jackie Robinson in 1947.From the MLB Network special “Jackie Robinson:” ”A very popular player, a charming fellow, [Dixie Walker] prepared a petition [for Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher] saying, ‘If you promote a black man [Jackie Robinson], we will not play.’ Branch Rickey [president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers] contacted Durocher and said, ‘Stomp this fire out right now because we can’t let it spread.’ Durocher, hearing about it, called a meeting of the players and said, ‘I’ll tell you what you can do with your petition: If a guy can win games for me, I don’t care if he’s white, or black, or striped, or green, he’s going to play for me.’ Dixie Walker left a note for Branch Rickey, asking to be traded. Leeds, Alabama, is where Dixie Walker had his hardware store. He had to go home and answer to his customers, to his friends [who asked], ‘Do you mean you shower with this guy? Do you eat with this guy? We don’t do that.’ Branch Rickey explored trading Walker, but he couldn’t afford to lose his star outfielder, and he continued to rely on Leo Durocher to keep the team in line.”

George Stovall

George Thomas Stovall, nicknamed "Firebrand" (November 23, 1877 in Leeds, Missouri – November 5, 1951 in Burlington, Iowa), was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball with the Cleveland Naps and the St. Louis Browns in the American League, and he also played two seasons with the Kansas City Packers of the short-lived Federal League. He was the manager of the Naps for one season in 1911, and in 1912, he went to the Browns, serving as player-manager for two seasons. In 1914, he jumped to the Packers as a first baseman-manager. In 1916, he signed with the Toledo Mud Hens and played a season there before retiring from baseball at age 39.

In 5596 career at bats, Stovall had 1382 hits. He recorded 231 doubles and 142 career stolen bases. While for the most part a first baseman, he did play some second base and even third base, especially early in his career. In 1905, he played 46 of his 112 games at second. Every year from 1905 until 1910, Stovall recorded at least 13 stolen bases.

In late 1913, Stovall was suspended by the American League for spitting tobacco juice at an umpire, and was fired as Browns manager, the job being passed to the relatively little-known (at the time) Branch Rickey.

His elder brother, Jesse Stovall, pitched two seasons in the major leagues.

Isolated Power

In baseball, Isolated Power or ISO is a sabermetric computation used to measure a batter's raw power. One formula is slugging percentage minus batting average.

The final result measures how many extra bases a player averages per at bat. A player who hits only singles would thus have an ISO of 0. The maximum ISO is 3.000, and can only be attained by hitting a home run in every at-bat.

The term "Isolated Power" was coined by Bill James, but the concept dates back to Branch Rickey and his statistician Allan Roth.

Jimmy Breslin

James Earle Breslin (October 17, 1928 – March 19, 2017) was an American journalist and author. Until the time of his death, he wrote a column for the New York Daily News Sunday edition. He wrote numerous novels, and columns of his appeared regularly in various newspapers in his hometown of New York City. He served as a regular columnist for the Long Island newspaper Newsday until his retirement on November 2, 2004, though he still published occasional pieces for the paper. He was known for his newspaper columns which offered a sympathetic viewpoint of the working-class people of New York City, and was awarded the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary "for columns which consistently champion ordinary citizens".

List of Los Angeles Dodgers owners and executives

This is a list of Los Angeles Dodgers owners and executives.

List of Pittsburgh Pirates owners and executives

The Pittsburgh Pirates are a Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They play in the National League Central division. The team began play in 1882 as the Alleghenies (alternately spelled "Alleghenys") in the American Association. The franchise moved to the National League after owner William Nimick became upset over a contract dispute, thus beginning the modern day franchise.From the franchise's beginning, the owner and manager fulfilled the duties of the general manager. However, in 1946, Roy Hamey left his position as president of the second American Association to become the Pirates' first general manager. The franchise's second general manager, Branch Rickey, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967. Hired in September 2007, Neal Huntington is the Pirates's current general manager. Barney Dreyfuss purchased the franchise in 1900, bringing players including Honus Wagner and Fred Clarke with him from the Louisville Colonels, which he had previously owned. In his 32 years as owner, Dreyfuss built Forbes Field and helped to organize the World Series. Dreyfuss was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008. Robert Nutting served as chairman of the board from 2003 to 2007, at which point he became majority owner of the franchise.

Michigan Wolverines baseball

The Michigan Wolverines baseball team represents the University of Michigan in NCAA Division I college baseball. Along with most other Michigan athletic teams, the baseball team participates in the Big Ten Conference. They play their home games at Ray Fisher Stadium.

The Wolverines have made the College World Series eight times, winning two national championships in 1953 and 1962. Michigan is the fourth winningest program in NCAA Division I baseball history, trailing only Fordham, Texas and USC.

Prior to the 2013 season, former Maryland head coach Erik Bakich replaced Rich Maloney as the program's head coach.

Philip Bartelme

Philip George Bartelme (August 16, 1876 – May 3, 1954), also known as P.G. Bartelme and sometimes spelled "Barthelme", was the second athletic director of the University of Michigan, holding the position from 1909-1921. Bartelme is credited with bringing the sports of basketball, hockey and swimming to varsity status at Michigan and with leading Michigan back into the Big Ten Conference after its withdrawal in 1907. The only athletic directors to serve a longer tenure at Michigan are Fielding H. Yost (1921-1940), Fritz Crisler (1941-1968), and Don Canham (1968-1988). After leaving Michigan in 1921, Bartelme spent the rest of his career in the world of professional baseball, serving as the president of the Syracuse Stars (1922-1925), the head of the St. Louis Cardinals' farm system in the 1930s, president of the Sacramento Solons (1936-1944), and a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Bartelme's baseball career was closely tied to that of Branch Rickey, who Bartelme had hired as Michigan's baseball coach in 1910.

Stockdale, Ohio

Stockdale is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in southern Marion Township, Pike County, Ohio, United States. Stockdale has a post office with the ZIP code 45683. Stockdale is served by the Minford Telephone Company and Eastern Local Schools.

Baseball Hall of Famer Branch Rickey was born in Stockdale in 1881.

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