Wesley Branch Rickey
In October 1942, in the midst of a deteriorating relationship with Breadon, Rickey resigned from the Cardinals and shortly thereafter was named general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The stands at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, where the Cardinals played, were segregated, but in New York City, the chances for successfully integrating a major league team seemed much better. In 1943, while reporting to the Dodgers board of directors on his plan to set up a mass scouting system, Rickey mentioned that he "might include a Negro player or two"; the idea met with tacit approval. Rickey then engaged his scouts in a mission to find the "right man" to break baseball's color line. Rickey announced publicly in 1945 that he intended to establish a new Negro league called the United States League, which would include a Brooklyn franchise called the Brown Dodgers. Rickey then had Dodger scouts intensively scout players in the existing Negro Leagues, including Robinson, who were presumably being scouted to play for the Brown Dodgers. The new Negro league team was actually a smokescreen, Rickey later conceded, invented as a ruse to mask his real intentions.
On August 18, 1945, Rickey met with Robinson, who had been scouted by a Dodger scout, Clyde Sukeforth, and was immediately impressed with Robinson's intelligence, character, and demeanor. Rickey delivered to Robinson an impassioned discourse on the abuse Robinson would face as baseball's first black player and why he believed Robinson had to take the abuse without retaliation. "You will symbolize a crucial cause," Rickey said. "One incident, just one incident, can set it back twenty years.… I'm looking for a ballplayer with enough guts not to fight back." On October 23, 1945, Rickey signed Robinson to a contract with the Dodgers' minor league affiliate in Montreal. On April 10, 1947, he made the epochal announcement that Robinson, after an outstanding year at Montreal, was being promoted to the Dodgers roster.
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