Branch Rickey Video

Submitted by Everyone Murders on April 16th, 2013 at 12:53 PM

John U. Bacon writes a short introduction to the attached video highlighted in this month's Michigan Today profiling civil rights pioneer Branch Rickey and his relationship with the immortal Jackie Robinson.  Rickey was a 1911 graduate of Michigan Law School.

Like so many great Wolverines, he was born in Ohio but shook it off.  Interesting that Charles Thomas, a black player on Rickey's Ohio Wesleyan team (at that point Rickey was Wesleyan's coach) was a catalyst for Rickey's focus on discrimination in baseball.  The incident in particular - a not unusual story of a hotel refusing to lodge a person of color - took place in South Bend, but sadly could have occurred virtually anywhere in the U.S. at that time.

This is well worth 25 minutes of your time, and as "42" hits the theaters, remember that Branch Rickey was a law school alumnus and a model representative of UofM in many ways.

There is also a related story by Bacon regarding the impact Rickey had on Fred Wilpon (Mets owner, Michigan man, and namesake of the baseball-softball complex) that's worth a look.  LINK.  Money quote?  Money quote:

He practically invented Ladies' Day—which integrated an almost entirely male domain—spring training, and baseball's minor league system. Former St. Louis Cardinal great Stan Musial said, "An all-star team of our top farm clubs probably could have finished third behind the Cardinals and Dodgers. This was Branch Rickey's masterpiece."




rob f

April 16th, 2013 at 1:20 PM ^

Thank You, EM.

That video is great primer for anyone not knowing of Branch Rickey and his important part in the Jackie Robinson story.  Well worth the 25 minutes you'll spend watching it.

rob f

April 16th, 2013 at 11:25 PM ^

Lots of U of M connections are mentioned in the story, including, of course, Rickey's time spent as a student in Michigan Law School. 

Beside that connection, also covered in some depth is Rickey's later connections with U of M, including his mentoring of Don Lund, who not only played baseball at U of M and with Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers, but also for the Detroit Tigers, before retiring from MLB and eventually taking the job of Head Coach for the Michigan Baseball Team.

Many of you may recall Bob Ufer's broadcasting sidekick, who he usually just referred to as "Lundo"---that was the same Don Lund who I mentioned above.

As I wanted to make sure of what I thought I knew about Don Lund and his association with Bob Ufer, I googled Lund and came across this interesting piece:…

...of course, that article didn't mention Ufer among the many famous people Lund had crossed paths with, but did mention the connections with Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson, and numerous others.

Other interviews of interest in the piece are with John Bacon and with good old Ernie Harwell, a man and a voice I really miss, Harwell was a living encyclopedia of baseball and sports knowledge.

no joke its hoke

April 16th, 2013 at 2:02 PM ^

he was born in my home town of Portsmouth,Ohio. As you can imagine we have a few things named after him here around town,but yet our town celebrates Roy Rogers way more. Yeah I have no idea why either.


April 16th, 2013 at 3:33 PM ^

That video was excellent, and the articles from Michigan Today were very enlightening. Thanks for sharing these with the board!

Some of the interviews from which they show exceprts (late 50s / early 60s, right before Rickey's death) are fascinating interviews. In a lot of respects, Branch Rickey was the game's first scientist  with winter ball, farm systems, and indeed, Rickey was one of the first to standardize the use statistics as a means of tracking and evaluating players. 

Ira Glasser republished a piece from "The World & I" (the Washington Times magazine) today as it discusses the Branch Rickey-Jackie Robinson story as well from a more sociological standpoint. Some of the interesting additional facts in this article - Rickey was condemned by his fellow owners by a 15-1 margin (Happy Chandler, who was the commissioner at the time, mentions the vote count) and Jackie Robinson was hit by pitches six times in the first 37 games in 1947 (no one had ever been hit that many times in a season to that time). 

Branch Rickey also had an interesting castigation in his later years for some of his colleagues that would have preferred slow, gradual steps towards integration (going from memory here):

"To advise moderation is like going to a stickup man and saying to him: "Don't use a gun. That's violent. Why not be a pickpocket instead? A moderate is a moral pickpocket."

Everyone Murders

April 16th, 2013 at 4:26 PM ^

Your Rickey quote reminds me of a favorite quote from abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison:

I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard.

I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I only know that quote via Titus Andronicus's A More Perfect Union.  But only a bit - because it's a great song (IMO) - YouTube LINK for the curious.