Branch Rickey takes control of the Dodgers
The great Brooklyn Dodgers dynasty was born out of the genius of Branch Rickey. And on Aug. 13, 1945, Rickey – already the Dodgers team president – assumed control of the team when he and associates Walter O'Malley and John Smith acquired a 50-percent interest of the Ebbets estate for a reported $750,000.
After the transaction, Rickey, O'Malley and Smith each owned 25 percent of the club. Rickey, acting as his own general manager, immediately began restocking a Brooklyn team that had won the National League pennant in 1941 but had lost manpower due to World War II.
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One of Rickey's first acts was to sign Jackie Robinson, an infielder with the Negro League Kansas City Monarchs, to a contract. Robinson would play for the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1946 before joining the Dodgers in 1947, breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier and starting his Hall of Fame big league career.
The Dodgers that Rickey built, featuring Hall of Famers Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese and Roy Campanella, won six NL pennants and one World Series title between 1947 and 1956.
Rickey, who also invented the modern player development system with the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930s, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967. Walter O'Malley was elected to the Hall in 2008.
Rickey passed away on Dec. 9, 1965.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.