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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OF Fantasy Draft

Last, but certainly not least, the Mitchell & Ness fantasy baseball team needs an outfield. Who are your top 3 outfielders in MLB history? Remember your selections must have retired before 2000.

 

Hank Aaron

Mickey Mantle

Ted Williams

Frank Robinson

Roberto Clemente

Willie Mays

Joe DiMaggio

Richie Ashburn

Stan Musial

Reggie Jackson

March 31, 2011 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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Clemente, Of Course

We couldn't have a week devoted to the Pirates without a post about arguably the greatest Pirate of them all, Roberto Clemente.  We've had posts about Roberto before because, well, how can you talk about baseball and not talk about him?  Impossible.  Since our last Clemente post we've taken some time to read David Maraniss' excellent biography on Roberto called Clemente, and we encourage you to do the same.

 

We loved some of the Clemente comments that have been posted on our facebook page recently so we've posted a few here.  Please take a few minutes to read these comments, the facts below and to watch the video.  Every baseball fan should learn a little more about the man who was a hero in every sense of the word.

Miguel A. Rosario Jr.
Clemente was what every ball player should aspire to be; a first class human being who lived to inspire and help others. A family man who cared so much about the game. I wish I could have watched him play live with my own eyes..

I Concur; He Was The PARAGON at ANY Position. What A Tragic Loss. Played In More Games Than Any Pirate....

David Steigbigel
Puerto Rican or not you have to appreciate Clemente. Trailblazer for hispanic players, great player and an even greater person.

Nelson Ramirez
I have been collecting Clemente jerseys for some time now. His '71 jersey, his '54 Santurce Cangrejeros, his Montreal Royals jersey and quite a few more. My father loved this man as a player and as a person. I wear my jerseys with pride for my the rememberences of Clemente and my father.

 


Roberto Clemente was born on August 18, 1934 in Carolina, a city in northeast Puerto Rico.  If you are even the slightest fan of baseball you probably know that Clemente was not only one of the greatest players of all time, but also one of the greatest humanitarians to ever play the game.

On the baseball side of things, Roberto was known equally for his hitting and fielding skills.  He got his start with the Pirates in 1955 and remained with the team until his untimely death in 1972.  Here are just a few of his accomplishments:

  • Member of the 1960 and 1971 World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 1961 - 1st Latin American player to win the National League batting title
  • 1966 National League MVP
  • Played in 12 All Star games
  • Won 12 Gold Gloves for his play in right field
  • Led the National League in outfield assists five times
  • Collected his 3,000 hit on the final day of the 1972 regular season (his last season)

In addition to all of his on field accomplishments, Clemente achieved just as much off the field.  Throughout his career he continued to go back to Puerto Rico in the off season to play winter baseball.  He felt an obligation to the people there and it was important to him that young kids had someone to look up to.

"A country without idols is nothing.  I send out 20,000 autographed pictures a year to the kids.  I feel proud when a kid asks me for my autograph.  I believe we owe something to the people who watch us.  They work hard for their money."

On December 23, 1972 a horrendous earthquake shook Nicaragua.  Clemente quickly orgainized a Puerto Rican relief effort and named himself as Chairman.  He organized all the fund raising, including going door to door himself asking for contributions.  When Roberto got word that the first shipments to arrive in Nicaragua ended up in the hands of a corrupt few, he decided that he would bring the next round himself.  On December 31st the plane carrying Clemente and the relief supplies crashed into the Atlantic Ocean a few miles off of the San Juan shore.  No bodies were ever recovered.

In March of 1973 the Baseball Writers Association of America waived the five year waiting period and gave Clemente immediate induction into the Hall of Fame.  Also in 1973, Major League Baseball renamed the Commissioner's Award the Roberto Clemente Award.  This annual award is given to the player who truly understands the value of helping others.

Watch this great clip to see the legend in action and to hear some interesting anecdotes about his career.

 

 

 

May 28, 2010 | E-mail | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed

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