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Baseball's Branch Rickey on the Montreal Royals

By 1948 Branch Rickey is well established as a legendary baseball executive and manager of the highly successful Brooklyn Dodgers. Over a 35-year career, he has defined the role of the modern baseball manager by mastering business affairs and creating innovative means of player acquisition and development, including creating a minor league system that brought a Major League Baseball affiliate team to Montreal. Two years after breaking the colour barrier in the major leagues by recruiting Jackie Robinson, Rickey sits down with the CBC for an annual conversation about the state of the franchise. Buzz Bavasi, the new general manager of the Montreal Royals, and team  vice president Colonel Romeo Gauvreau are also present.
• In this clip, Branch Rickey answers a number of general questions about his expectations for the two clubs. They discuss the success of Jackie Robinson and the future of such current Montreal Royals as future hall of famer Roy Campanella, who would break training camp that season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. They also talk about the Dodgers' spring training facility in the Dominican Republic and the return of manager Leo Derocher after a one-year suspension (for an unmentioned association with gamblers). Colonel Gauvreau answers questions about renovations to the Royals' stadium, Delormier Downs, and his expectations for the 1948 season.

• 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.
Medium: Radio
Broadcast Date: Jan. 28, 1948
Program: CBC Radio Sports Special
Interviewer: Larry O'Brien
Guests: Branch Rickey, Buzz Bavasi, Romeo Gauvreau
Duration: 8:33
Photo: Baseball Hall of Fame

Last updated: August 26, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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