October 29, 1942
Dodgers president and general manager Larry MacPhail planned to leave the team in order to accept a commission in the United States army and he led the Dodgers to his friend and former St. Louis Cardinals’ GM, Branch Rickey.
Rickey and MacPhail became friends at George Washington University Law School. The Cardinals and Rickey just parted ways and the Dodgers didn’t hesitate to have him fill their soon-to-be empty role. With the Cardinals, Rickey overhauled the minor league system and it led the Cardinals to great success in his two decades with the team.
After coming to the Dodgers, Rickey continued his innovative ways and was responsible for the Dodgers’ spring training facility in Vero Beach, Florida. The Dodgers GM also hired a statistician to become an analyst for the Dodgers and was one of the pioneers of using advanced statistics to help build a team. Common baseball items such as the batting cage, batting helmet and pitching machines were also used more frequently thanks to Rickey.
However, Rickey’s greatest accomplishment in his time as Dodgers President and GM came when he decided to sign a black baseball player and have him play in the major leagues. Rickey did extensive research and found a player by the name of Jackie Robinson, who he later signed to a minor league contract. A year later in 1947, Robinson made his debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers and became the first black player in the major leagues. Rickey successfully helped break down the color barrier in professional baseball and soon the league was fully integrated.
Rickey remained with the Dodgers until 1950 and went on to become the GM of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1955, Rickey retired from his position due to health problems. Ten years later Rickey would pass away from heart failure after complications from a coma.
He remains a significant figure in the history of not only the Dodgers but in the entire game of baseball.
In case you missed it, here’s the Dodgers pool celebration, PLUS Yasiel Puig’s celebration dance off!