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.