Wesley Branch Rickey
Rickey was a genuine innovator who had a good bit of the college professor in him. His chief innovation, of course, was the farm system concept, which enabled teams like the Cardinals to compete against teams bankrolled by deeper-pocketed owners. Rickey was continually coming up with newfangled ideas, such as sliding pits, "pitching strings," and batting tees; he hired the first statistician in baseball (the Dodgers' Allan Roth) and used mathematical formulas to predict a team's success in offensive and defensive categories (and to question some commonly held assumptions about whether factors such as strikeouts are a reliable predictor of a team's ability to prevent runs). Rickey was interested in his players' moral welfare, and he always made it a point to inquire about a boy's character and family circumstances before deciding whether to sign him. He often spoke before the YMCA and other civic groups and was an early sponsor and supporter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Sports, Rickey believed, exemplified the moral percepts that make American great and that help to mold individual character.
Rickey had a genuine aesthetic appreciation of baseball and an almost evangelical faith in its place in American life. He was motivated by two guiding principles in challenging baseball's pre-World War II apartheid policy:a fundamental respect for democratic principles and "fair play"; and a religious conviction that it was not only the right time to break baseball's color line but was the right thing to do.
- Wesley Branch Rickey - Baseball: An Illustrated History
- Wesley Branch Rickey - Post-dodger Years
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