It has been my belief that there are three geniuses that transformed baseball. Two are discussed in Right Off the Bat, whereas the third is simply alluded to: his contributions being a little too complicated for what we are trying to accomplish in our book.
My genius list consists of Casey Stengel, Babe Ruth, and Branch Rickey. (It is Stengel that is under-represented in the book for the reason stated.)
Two new books are reviewed in the New York Times: Branch Rickey, by sui generis New York journalist Jimmy Breslin, and Campy, by Neil Lanctot.
The notice gives an excellent overview of Ebbets Field and the Dodgers of Brooklyn, a most colorful bunch of players and fans within the ultimate working-class ballpark. What it also does is explain a little of what a visionary Branch Rickey was. He devised what is called “the farm system” of minor-league affiliates from which the major league clubs primarily draw talent. Above all, he is one of the largely unsung figures of the civil-rights movement in his signing of Jackie Robinson.