Remebering Branch Rickey

Updated: April 14, 2008


Jackie Robinson and

Branch Rickey might

as well be “twins”

Neither would exist today not the way history has recorded them without the Other. April 15 when so much attention is being focused on Jackie Robinson sincere or NOT barely a word is said or written about Branch Rickey. Well without Branch Rickey there would be no April 15, 1947. Not as a date of Eternal Importance.

YES Jackie Robinson might still be recorded as an outstanding athlete of his time but you would have to dig very deep in the history books or on google to find a very obscure African American athlete who once played in the Negro Leagues and who was better remembered for his college football prowess. As for Branch Rickey he would be better known today than Robinson but not by much as the architect of the St. Louis Cardinals then the Brooklyn Dodgers.

What most of us don’t appreciate

Is that there had been talk about an African American playing in the Major Leagues for a decade or more before 1947 but nothing ever came of it. It was mostly “feel good” talk for those who cared. And it is very likely had Branch Rickey not become determined to bring a Black player to the Brooklyn Dodgers it certainly would not have happened until at least the early 1950s possibly as late as 1960 the ingrained RACISM within Major League Baseball and American Society was so entrenched and long standing.

Branch Rickey Brooklyn’s general manager

truly does stand alone as an iconic figure

who exactly was Branch Rickey

here is Rickey’s Wikipedia bio

The fact is Branch Rickey was a true innovation and a Towering Figure in the history of Baseball but if not for Jackie Robinson he would still be a figure for “inside baseball” chatter and guaranteed no one not a student of Baseball would have any idea who Branch Rickey was. As most people don’t except for one decision.

Looked at another way it is only because Branch Rickey was such a TOWERING figure and as brilliant and resourceful as he was that he found the way to integrate Baseball when others dismally failed sincere or not.

Branch Rickey invented the farm system in Baseball. As simple and obvious as that may seem today an essential part of Baseball being Minor League Baseball. It dd not exist in any organized way before Rickey. Specifically Major League teams did not maintain teams they owned and operated for the purpose of developing talent.

NOT only did Rickey create the farm system as we know it he became the master of it as General Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals responsible for the amazing “Gashouse Gang” that won 101 games in 1931 and the World Series that year. And the long tern success of the Cardinals. Before Rickey moved on later to Brooklyn.

In Brooklyn Rickey originated formal spring training and became the first Baseball team official to employ a brand of statistical analysis in evaluating players. But all of his talents and earlier successes led him to his greatest achievement. And only because of his many talents, his stellar reputation and his range of experience was Branch Rickey able to orchestrate a strategy which resulted in the most important single date in the history of American Sports April 15, 1947.

So so important because

it meant so much more

to the future of America

than one talented Black

player walking onto a

Major League Baseball

Field for the very First

time in the 20th century

April 15th belongs to

Robinson & Rickey