Sunday April 15 was the 60th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the baseball color barrier. All Dodgers wore number 42 to pay tribute.
But Sarah Morris writes that Dodger executive Branch Rickey is the forgotten man — whose moral conviction and courage to do the right thing had him taking on the entire institution of Major League Baseball.
Also, read how Sarah Morris fought cerebral palsy and won a job writing for the Dodgers, for another example of courage against insurmountable odds.
The biggest accomplishment of Rickey’s baseball career was signing Robinson to break the color barrier in the major leagues.
Since the mid of 1880s, the owners had an unwritten agreement that no African-Americans would play in the major leagues.
In 1942, Rickey joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as president and general manager. This is where he made the biggest impact on the sport. He encouraged the use of batting cages, batting helmets, and pitching machines.
He established the first full-time spring training site at Vero Beach. Before Rickey, teams traveled from place to place playing games to prepare for the regular season. Having one site enabled the Dodgers to train better, have equipment to train with, and conserve their energy for the season.
Rickey had moral conviction and had a deep sense of what was right. Brought up in a devout Methodist farm household, Rickey never attended a baseball game on Sunday.
He taught himself Latin, which enabled him to receive a law degree from the University of Michigan. His self-discipline and law knowledge paid valuable to his baseball career.