Branch Rickey, Pioneer of Sports
With the behind-the-scenes ark of Rickety and the spectacular on-field play of Robinson the two were successful in their venture. Branch Rickety began his career in major league baseball as a catcher but only for two seasons. After his short playing career, Rickety coached college baseball and graduated from law school at the University of Michigan. Rickety then became an assistant for the SST. Louis Browns in 1 913 and later moved to field manager for both the SST. Louis Browns and Cardinals.
As time passed Rickety realized his skill was with the business side of baseball and was hired as general manager of the Cardinals.In SST. Louis, he had created a team that won numerous pennants, a few World Series championships, and had developed some of the best players in the game through their many minor league franchises. Rickety was an innovator to the game and realized the need for a great farm system. The Cardinals had such success in developing players that they were able to not only stack their team with talent, but they could afford to trade or sell numerous other prospects for a profit. Rickety had been so successful with the Cardinal organization that many people found his departure from SST.Louis surprising.
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Branch Rickety became the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodger organization in 1942 after 25 years as head of the SST. Louis Cardinals. When he joined the Dodgers, Rickety immediately began creating a farm system like he had in SST. Louis in order to build a winning franchise. He also had another idea, one that he had been thinking about for a while but was unable to do in SST. Louis: sign black players. Branch Rickety had many reasons to want to sign black players.
The one mentioned first by most observers was publicity.Signing a black player would rate headlines all over the country and possibly draw huge crowds to see the Dodgers play. Another reason is that black players were an untapped resource of the league. Since no other team was interested in signing them, he could get the best players from the Negro Leagues and create a great team. Obviously some were good enough to play professional baseball, no matter what the critics said, and they wanted to play in the majors. The opportunity was there for the Dodgers to create a great team.The final motivation is the one that Rickety maintains, and I believe, was the reason for he “great experiment”: “l couldn’t face my God much longer knowing that His black creatures are held separate and distinct from His white creatures in the game that has given me all own.
” (Textile 48). Rickety maintained strong religious beliefs and would not attend baseball games on Sundays. He portrayed himself as an honest and righteous man, but some pointed out that he would bend the rules to help his organization. Rickety claims his motivation to integrate baseball stems from 1 904 when he coached baseball for Ohio Wesleyan University.Charlie Thomas, a black first baseman for the team, was forced to sleep on a cot in Rockery’s room at the hotel as if he were a servant because the hotel did not allow blacks. In the middle of the night Rickety woke up to hear Charlie crying and rubbing his skin praying to be white. Many, even Rickety on one occasion, claim that he did not integrate baseball for this reason but to make his team win.
Although I believe much of his reason was to win baseball games, I also believe that in order to integrate baseball at that time, with as much planning as he did, a greater motivation also must exist.