Branch Rickey

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Branch Rickey was the key figure in the integration of major league baseball during the 1940s. He became a pioneer for the sport and went where no owner had dared to go. Branch Rickey was the first baseball executive to successfully, or for that matter, even try to, sign a black man to a major league contract. In 1946, as president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rickey signed Jack Roosevelt Robinson, a black player from the Kansas City Monarchs, to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers Triple A baseball team breaking the color barrier that had been present for over 50 years. With the behind-the-scenes work of Rickey and the spectacular on-field play of Robinson the two were successful in their venture.

Branch Rickey began his career in major league baseball as a catcher but only for two seasons. After his short playing career, Rickey coached college baseball and graduated from law school at the University of Michigan. Rickey then became an assistant for the St. Louis Browns in 1913 and later moved to field manager for both the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals. As time passed Rickey realized his skill was with the business side of baseball and was hired as general manager of the Cardinals. In St. 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. Rickey 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.

Rickey had been so successful with the Cardinal organization that many people found his departure from St. Louis surprising. Branch Rickey became the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodger organization in 1942 after 25 years as head of the St. Louis Cardinals. When he joined the Dodgers, Rickey immediately began creating a farm system like he had in St. 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 St. Louis: sign black players.
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