© 2020 Biography and the Biography logo are registered trademarks of A&E Television Networks, LLC. He was a base runner barreling into Robinson, deliberately spiking him: How do you like that, nigger boy? “No,” said Rickey, sitting behind his desk, puffing a cigar. Robinson and members of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality, demonstrated in an effort to stop construction of publicly financed projects until more jobs were given to blacks. In 1972, in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made.”. Umpire is Bill Summers. A theatrical man fond of dramatic gestures, Rickey abruptly swiveled his chair in Robinson’s direction and pointed a stubby finger at him. The last of the Negro Leagues disbanded soon after, their marquee players all having been brought into the desegregated major leagues. Rickey began acting out the insults he knew Robinson would face. Robinson died from heart problems and diabetes complications on October 24, 1972. VIDEO: Branch Rickey Scouting Reports Take a look at Rickey’s scouting report of Don Drysdale and a heartfelt coorespondence with Jackie Robinson. To hell with the image of the patient black freak I was supposed to create. Brooklyn Dodger infielder Jackie Robinson poses in May 1952. Robinson signed a contract to play with the Montreal Royals of the International League on October 23, 1945 receiving a $3,500 bonus and $600 per month salary. Rickey stood up and took off his suit jacket. Robinson reported to the Montreal Royals baseball club at Sanford, Florida, to play for the Dodger farm team for the 1946 season. “If I had a room jammed with trophies, awards and citations, and a child of mine came into that room and asked what I had done in defense of black people and decent whites fighting for freedom, and I had to tell that child that I had kept quiet, that I had been timid, I would have to mark myself a total failure at the whole business of living,” Robinson wrote. Photo: Brooklyn Dodgers infielder Jackie Robinson, April 18, 1948. FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. “Mr. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images). “When we get through today, you might want to call her up,” said the white man, “because there are times when a man needs a woman by his side.”. Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers poses for a portrait circa 1947-1956. This is the way to prove to the public that a Negro should not be allowed in the major leagues.”. “The scope of his thinking constantly surprised even those who knew him well,” his grandson, Branch B. Rickey, recalled. After breaking baseball’s color barrier on April 15, 1947, the rookie kept his promise—even when opposing players spiked him in the thigh or pitched beanballs at his head, even when he received hate mail and death threats, even when he was forced to shower separately from his white teammates, even when bigoted fans hurled invectives—and worse—at him. The Royals won the International League pennant and Robinson was voted Most Valuable Player. But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”. After that, he signed his historic contract with the Dodgers. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum), Branch Rickey (pictured above) was concerned with the public’s perception of those who did not serve as they would be distinguishable from colleagues who were sporting the “ruptured duck” patch (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum), Branch Rickey helped build Dodger teams that included Hall of Famers Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella. In 1947, he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in spring training, and several Dodgers signed a petition protesting the hiring of a Negro. “I know that you are starting a team called the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers,” said the black man, who was Jack Roosevelt Robinson, 26, a shortstop for the Kansas City Monarchs, a Negro League baseball team. They’ll call you dirty names. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier when he became the first Black athlete to play Major League Baseball after joining the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. While Rickey's influence on the game of baseball at this point was important, what he would do while with the Dodgers would go down not only in sports history, but American history. Rickey brought his innovative spirit with him to Brooklyn. He never expected to live long enough to see the integration of baseball, and now this man was offering to make him the first black player in the major leagues. Jackie Robinson is shown as he prepared to throw out the first ball at the second game of the World Series in Cincinnati on October 15, 1972, his last public appearance. Both men knew the gamble was a big one because—contrary to the mythology that subsequently developed around him—Robinson wasn’t the turn-the-other-cheek type. Robinson's success led other owners to seek talented Black players, and by 1952, there were 150 Black players in organized baseball. Robinson faced perhaps his greatest test a week after his debut when the Philadelphia Phillies, led by their manager Ben Chapman, sprayed the field with racial taunts and calls for him to “go back to the cotton fields.” Robinson daydreamed “for one wild and rage-crazed minute” about “what a glorious, cleansing thing it would be to let go. “I am extremely proud and pleased to be here this afternoon,” he told the sellout crowd in Cincinnati and millions watching at home, “but must admit I’m going to be tremendously more pleased and more proud if I look at that third base coaching line one day and see a black face managing in baseball.”. The Cardinals won nine league championships with players signed under Rickey's guidance. Robinson didn’t move. He talked back to white officials, struck back against white players who levied hard blows. Robinson won the first MLB Rookie of the Year Award, the award that is named after him today. https://www.biography.com/athlete/branch-rickey. Nathaneal West, novelist and screenwriter (Miss Lonely Hearts, The Day of the Locust). Baseball legend Joe DiMaggio set a record with his 56-game hitting streak in 1941 and won nine World Series titles during his 13 years with the New York Yankees. The national pastime—and the nation—changed forever. Brooklyn Dodgers from left, Pee Wee Reese, Jackie Robinson, and Preacher Roe are a happy trio in the clubhouse after the Dodgers beat the Yankees 5-3 in the third game of the World Series at Yankee Stadium in New York, Oct. 3, 1952. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Your Privacy Controls. Jackie Robinson during Spring Training, c.1950. He also served as the president of the Continental League, which never made it to the field but spurred the first round of big league expansion in 1961 and 1962. Jackie Robinson at the 1972 World Series. Adding to his legacy, Rickey is portrayed by Harrison Ford in the 2013 film 42, which depicts the story of how Rickey and Jackie Robinson changed the baseball landscape forever in the 1940s. “But let me tell you, it’s going to take an awful lot of courage.”. At one point, Rickey threw a punch toward Robinson’s face, missing by inches. Baseball Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente became the first Latin American player to collect 3,000 career hits before his death in a plane crash. I think you can play in the major leagues. They’ll try to provoke a race riot in the ballpark. In a career that spanned multiple generations and multiple revolutionary changes in baseball, Branch Rickey was always looking to innovate. Rickey, are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?” asked the young diamond star.
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