Rickey shaped baseball’s future via Continental League
Though the Continental League disbanded and never reached its April 1961 start date, Rickey and Shea succeeded in influencing Major League Baseball to expand to more cities across the country. Of the eight Continental League locations, only Buffalo has not received an expansion team.
Ironically, two years before the idea of the Continental League was conceived, Rickey told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he thought the simple solution was to add another NL team to New York City.
“I am not interested in a third major league,” said the CL’s future president. “Put me down as a deplorer of a situation where there is only one club available in an area of 14 million people (New York City).”
The Veterans Committee voted Branch Rickey into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967 after he served 51 years as a player, manager and executive. He spent only four years out of baseball between 1905 and 1955 – while serving in World War I.
Rickey is credited with developing the modern farm system during his time as general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. With the Brooklyn Dodgers, he pioneered the use of baseball statistics and became one of the first proponents of batting helmets.
He is most famous for being the first executive to break baseball’s color barrier, signing Jackie Robinson to a contract in 1945.
Rickey died on Dec. 9, 1965.
Chris Blake was a publications intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum