Branch Rickey


Branch Rickey

Baseball's Ferocious Gentleman

688 pages
18 photographs, index

eBook (EPUB)
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August 2022


$34.95 Add to Cart

April 2009


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

He was not much of a player and not much more of a manager, but by the time Branch Rickey (1881–1965) finished with baseball, he had revolutionized the sport—not just once but three times. In this definitive biography of Rickey—the man sportswriters dubbed “The Brain,” “The Mahatma,” and, on occasion, “El Cheapo”—Lee Lowenfish tells the full and colorful story of a life that forever changed the face of America’s game.
As the mastermind behind the Saint Louis Cardinals from 1917 to 1942, Rickey created the farm system, which allowed small-market clubs to compete with the rich and powerful. Under his direction in the 1940s, the Brooklyn Dodgers became truly the first “America’s team.” By signing Jackie Robinson and other black players, he single-handedly thrust baseball into the forefront of the civil rights movement. Lowenfish evokes the peculiarly American complex of God, family, and baseball that informed Rickey’s actions and his accomplishments. His book offers an intriguing, richly detailed portrait of a man whose life is itself a crucial chapter in the history of American business, sport, and society.

Author Bio

Lee Lowenfish, a historian, journalist, broadcaster, and jazz commentator, is the author of The Imperfect Diamond: A History of Baseball’s Labor Wars.


“Lowenfish’s take is detailed and nuanced, balancing the issue of integration with the economic and competitive imperatives of running a professional baseball team. . . . Where Lowenfish is at his best is in explicating the complex and often contradictory impulses that drove his subject, as well as his almost evangelical sense of self. . . . All this leaves us with a question—or a set of questions—about who Rickey really was. To Lowenfish’s credit, he doesn’t look for simple answers; despite his own abiding admiration, he never sugarcoats or presents Rickey in anything other than a three-dimensional light. . . . Without him, baseball would not exist as we know it. America would be a different place as well. In these pages Lowenfish traces the evolution of that America through the filter of a remarkable life.”—David L. Ulin, LA Times Book Review

Branch Rickey: Baseball’s Ferocious Gentleman, by Lee Lowenfish, provides a thorough account of the life, character, and exploits of this teetotaler Ohio farm boy, the grandson of a horse trader, and a true ‘conservative revolutionary.’”—Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe

“As we mark the 60th anniversary of the breaking of the color line in major league baseball, it’s fair to conclude that Jackie Robinson turned out to be more than Branch Rickey had expected, that Rickey proved to be more than Lee Lowenfish expected, and that this biography will exceed his readers’ expectations. . . . Lowenfish has clearly been captivated by Rickey and by what might be termed the Rickey spell. Thus fascinated, Lowenfish has been able to communicate that fascination to readers.”—John C. Chalberg, The Weekly Standard

“Lowenfish . . . meticulously researches Rickey’s life and presents a three-dimensional portrait of a man who, in addition to his baseball acumen, was a highly religious, socially conscious visionary. . . . Though much has been written about Rickey, the depth and thoroughness of Lowenfish’s research make this the definitive biography of baseball’s most influential executive.” —Booklist