Branch Rickey was a talented enough athlete to make the Major Leagues in 1905, playing one game for the St. Louis Browns that year. However, he would struggle for two more seasons before his playing days ended and he pursued a career in law. He came back to the game in 1913 as the manager of the Browns and then the St. Louis Cardinals. He would go on to profoundly change the way the game is played twice, first in 1924 and then again in 1947. His mediocre record as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals did not discourage the owners from moving him up to the front office and it was there that the tight-fisted GM, always looking for a bargain, created the farm system. Prior to that point, teams scouted the minor leagues for future talent. Rickey built his entire organization around the purchasing and development of cheap minor league talent within a series of teams owned by the Cardinal organization. The system is still in place today for every Major League team. But perhaps his greatest contribution came in 1947 when, after years waiting for the moment in which he could break the infamous color line, Rickey integrated baseball by hiring Jackie Robinson to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
August 19, 2011