Baseball's Branch Rickey on the Montreal Royals
• Born in Ohio in 1881, Rickey began playing professional football for the Shelby Blues of the Ohio League in 1902. The league was the direct predecessor to the modern National Football League. During his time with Shelby he became friends with Charles Follis, the first black professional football player.
• After a switch from football to baseball, Rickey was a catcher for both the Cleveland Browns and the New York Highlanders from 1905 to 1907. One opposing team stole 13 bases while Rickey was behind the plate. It's a record that still stands.
• During the First World War, Rickey served as an officer in the U.S. Army in France, commanding a unit that included Ty Cobb and Christy Mathewson.
• Rickey was responsible for creating the minor league system of farm teams that feed the major leagues, the birth of spring training facilities, and the use of now-commonplace tools such as the batting cage, pitching machines and batting helmets.
• When he hired Allan Roth as a full-time analyst for the Dodgers in 1947, Rickey also pioneered the use of statistical analysis in baseball (what is now known as sabermetrics).
• In addition to breaking the colour barrier for African-Americans, Rickey drafted the first Afro-Hispanic baseball superstar, Roberto Clemente, who also began his career with the Montreal Royals.
• At Rickey's funeral, Jackie Robinson contended that only Abraham Lincoln had done more for African-Americans.
Broadcast Date: Jan. 28, 1948
Program: CBC Radio Sports Special
Interviewer: Larry O'Brien
Guests: Branch Rickey, Buzz Bavasi, Romeo Gauvreau
Photo: Baseball Hall of Fame
Last updated: August 26, 2013
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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