Recovery and War, 1940–1941
CLARK GRIFFITH wasn't called the Old Fox for nothing. At the major leagues' December 1939 meetings in Cincinnati—amid much mewling about Yankees domination—Griffith convinced representatives of six other American League franchises (the Yankees abstaining) to adopt his proposed rule: henceforth no team would make an exchange of players with the reigning league champion except when a player was put on waivers. Sputtered Branch Rickey, “They've gone communistic in that league. Socialistic, I should say—trying to curtail enterprise.” 1 The club representatives in Rickey's league voted down a similar motion.
Of course, much of the Yankees' success resulted from emulating what Rickey had started: fashioning a farm system and developing young players in the minors. By 1940 the St. Louis Cardinals owned or had working agreements with thirty-two minor-league teams. Brooklyn and Detroit had twelve farm teams each; the Yankees, eleven; the Boston Red Sox, nine. But if the necessity to build farm systems had become conventional wisdom in both leagues, poorer franchises such as Washington, the Boston Bees, the St. Louis Browns, and the two Philadelphia clubs had to rely exclusively on working agreements, which frequently shifted from year to year.
Only the Chicago Cubs still tried to operate in the old way, seeking to buy players (in an increasingly tight market), taking whatever was available in the annual draft of eligible minor leaguers, and trading with other National League teams. Philip K. Wrigley owned the Los Angeles franchise and ballpark, but the Angels were operated in such a way that the Cubs