Out of the Shadows: African American Baseball from the Cuban Giants to Jackie Robinson

By Bill Kirwin | Go to book overview

LEE LOWENFISH


When All Heaven Rejoiced
Branch Rickey and the Origins of
the Breaking of the Color Line

He really leads a double life—one with his conscience and the other with the
employer who pays him one of the top salaries in baseball…. Perhaps the most
moral man in private life in the sports field, Rickey is an ardent churchman, a
volunteer, non-professional missionary.—
Stanley Frank, New York Post

If our aim is to make Brooklyn the baseball capital of America, by Judas Priest,
we'll do it! The Yankees made New York the capital of the American League and
they didn't do that by any chance or any luck. They did it by personnel, industry
and program. They have been winning not because God has been smiling on them
and on no one else. They toiled and they sweated to get something and they got it
.

IT WAS A VINTAGE Branch Rickey speech, extolling the virtues of hard work and competition on this earth while never forgetting to mention that there was a God above overseeing it all.1 Rickey was addressing one of his favorite audiences, a Rotary Club in Brooklyn, shortly before the beginning of the 1943 baseball season, which would be Rickey's first as president and general manager of the local heroes, the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The great orator was just getting warmed up. “Brooklyn has more industries than New York, but most of the executive offices are in Manhattan. What happens then?” Rickey asked rhetorically. “The Brooklynites resent Manhattan getting all the credit. They have a real pride in their own and refuse to become parasitical. When anything comes along distinctly Brooklyn, they rally behind it because it is an expression of themselves, even an entity as lowly as a baseball club.”2

Rickey professed to understand the Brooklynites' hatred of their fat cat rivals across the East River. “‘Poo on the Giants,’ they [the Dodger fans] say, and they are right,” he exclaimed. “It is the pooling of support behind the team, by George, which makes it successful.” He concluded with a

-15-

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