Pittsburgh Pirates History: Tribute to Branch Rickey's Impact on the Game

Branch Rickey Larry MacPhail 1941
Branch Rickey Larry MacPhail 1941 / Transcendental Graphics/GettyImages
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Today marks Branch Rickey's birthday, so I want to pay tribute by looking at his meteoric impact on the Pittsburgh Pirates and baseball as a whole

Today would have been Branch Rickey’s 141st birthday. The baseball revolutionist is the most influential humans to the sport. Many of the innovations in the sport can be traced back to Rickey’s initiative. Today, I want to pay tribute to Rickey and explain how he is the true creator of Moneyball.

Rickey was born on December 20, 1881, in Portsmouth, Ohio. Rickey lived with his parents, along with his brother and sister Frank and Orla. Rickey would attend both Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Michigan and served in the United States Military in 1917 and 1918.

Rickey had already started his professional sports in 1902, as he was a member of the Shelby Blues of the Ohio League (the predecessor to the NFL). However, he would get his start in professional baseball in 1903, and by 1904, he had signed with the Cincinnati Reds.

Rickey’s career in Major League Baseball was short-lived, as he only appeared in 120 games from 1905 to 1914 (he did not play from ‘07-’13). He was what many would now consider a utility man. He saw time behind the plate, at first base, and in both corner outfield positions. But in 1913, he would take over a head-coach role for the St. Louis Browns/Cardinals and served in that position for the next ten seasons (except for when he was in the military).

At the same time as he was the manager for the Browns/Cardinals, he was also their general manager. Rickey would eventually move into just a General Manager role after 1925 and remained with St. Louis until 1942. After ‘42, he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers from ‘43-’50, where he made the legendary signing of Jackie Robinson and demolished baseball’s color barrier, and then joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1950 through 1955.

Rickey would go on to live until December 9, 1965, at the age of 83 years old. Two years later, the veteran’s committee elected Rickey into the Baseball Hall of Fame, going down as one of the most historic men in baseball ever, at the professional level and amateur level.