Happy Birthday Branch Rickey

Branch Rickey was born in December 20, 1881 in Stockdale, Ohio.  He grew up playing baseball but was never a standout.  Rickey played in college at Ohio Wesleyan University and spent a few years in the majors with the Browns and Highlanders.  After his uneventful playing career, Rickey moved to the front office where he would singlehandedly change the game of baseball. Here's what he did.

  • He joined the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 1919.  During his time in St. Louis, from 1919 - 42, Rickey served as field manager, General Manager and President.  He led the Cardinals to six NL pennants and 4 World Championships, and turned the club into the class of the league.

  • While in St. Louis he created the framework for the minor league farm system which is still in use today.  The farm system that he developed with the Cardinals was ultimately adopted by every major leage baseball team.
  • In 1942 Branch left the Cardinals and joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as President and General Manager.  During his time in Brooklyn Rickey created the first ever full time spring training facility in Vero Beach, Florida.
  • He was the first to promote the use of batting helmets, batting cages and pitching machines.
  • He was the first executive to utilize statistics in the running of his club when he hired a full time statistician in 1947.
  • In 1945 Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to a minor league contract, ultimately leading to Robinson's breaking of the color barrier in 1947.

  • After differences with Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley, Rickey left the club for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • In 1954, Branch selected outfielder Roberto Clemente in the post - season draft.  Clemente would go on to become the game's first Hispanic superstar.

Needless to say, the game of baseball might look very different today without the innovations and accomplishments of Branch Rickey.  Happy 130th Birthday Mr. Rickey.

 

 

December 20, 2011 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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Rookie of the Year

1947, and September 19th in particular, was a big year for Major League Baseball. In the 78 years of the league leading up to 1947, the color of your skin was a determining factor for whether or not you could play for a professional team in Major League Baseball. But just before the start of the 1947 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers broke down that color barrier and called up Jackie Robinson from their AAA affiliate (the Montreal Royals). And before a home crowd of over 26,000 fans, Robinson made his Major League debut and changed the game of baseball forever.

 

In his rookie campaign, Robinson hit .297 in 151 games for the Dodgers. He led the league with 29 stolen bases and scored 125 runs (a career high). His amazing rookie production helped lead his team to a World Series appearance against the Yankees. The storybook start to Robinson's career was slightly blemished when Yankees won the '47 World Series in seven games, however, Robinson’s production over the course of that infamous season would earn him a distinguished honor.

 

From 1940-1946, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) selected one player from each league as the Rookie of the Year. However, this award was regional and not recognized by the league. That changed in 1947. MLB decided to take this Rookie of the Year award and make it a nationally recognized honor given to just one player in the entire league. Because of his immediate impact with the Dodgers, on September 19th, 1947, MLB awarded its first Rookie of the Year award to Jackie Robinson. So over the course of just one season, Jackie Robinson managed to desegregate America’s pastime, win the Rookie of the Year award and validate his existence and his race's existence in Major League Baseball. That is an amazing rookie performance.

 

 

 

 

 

September 19, 2011 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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Jackie Robinson

 

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.

-Jackie Robinson

April 10, 1947


Scoring the winning run, June 1952

 

Stealing home at Ebbets Field, May 18, 1952

 

Crossing the plate after his first major league home run.

 

The 1955 World Champion Brooklyn Dodgers

 

1957, Jackie retires from baseball


The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me.  The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it.

-Jackie Robinson


For more on Jackie Robinson visit iam42.com

April 15, 2011 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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All-Time MLB Team

The Mitchell & Ness fantasy baseball team is starting to take shape. Our next position up for debate is 2nd base. Who is the all-time best 2nd baseman? Remember that your pick can not be a current player (so no Chase Utley or Robinson Cano) and he must have retired before 2000 (sorry Craig Biggio).

 

Jackie Robinson

Joe Morgan 

Rogers Hornsby

Ryne Sandberg

Nellie Fox

March 22, 2011 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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“A life is not important…

except in the impact it has on other lives."   -Jackie Robinson.

 

 

It is safe to say that no one, especially another athlete, has impacted more lives than Jackie in the past 100 years.  He opened the door for African-American athletes of multiple generations, as he is regarded as the Barrier Breaker of Baseball.

 

In addition to his ability and talent on the baseball field, Jackie was an all-around natural athlete.  He excelled at every sport he played.  In fact, while at UCLA, Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. In 1941, he was named to the All-American football team before withdrawing from school due to financial troubles.  That summer, the Chicago Tribune invited Robinson to participate in an all-star game against the Champion Chicago Bears.  Despite the very-much lopsided game, Robinson stood out by scoring a touchdown.  His performance that day landed him a paid roster-spot for the semi-pro and racially integrated, Honolulu Bears. On December 5, 1941, Jackie left Hawaii and headed back to Los Angeles. Two days later, Pearl Harbor was bombed and with that, Jackie was drafted in early 1942.

 

 

 

While achieving the rank of Second-Lieutenant, Jackie was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas.  Interestingly enough, also stationed there was heavyweight boxing champ and Army Private Joe Louis.  Louis, like Robinson, was held in high respects for his athletic talents and also his success in bolstering the American spirit during crucial times; he also desegregated the game of professional golf.  Robinson was honorably discharged from the Army in November, 1944 after court-martial charges against him, for refusing to sit on the back of a bus, had been dropped.

 

 

(Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson at Fort Riley Field in Kansas)

In 1945, Jackie received an offer to play in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs.  He signed on with the team (alongside Satchel Paige) for just one season before joining the Brooklyn Dodgers organization in April 1947.

 

(Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson)

The rest is history.  In the face of racism, on the field and off, Robinson exercised extreme self-control and silently answered insults with his performance.  In his first season, Jackie became Rookie of the Year, and National League MVP just two years later.  He was selected to six all-star teams and became a World Series Champion in 1955.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1962 and jersey number 42 has been retired by all Major League Baseball Teams.

 

Jackie Robinson retired from professional baseball on January 5, 1957.

January 5, 2010 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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