The Secret Ingredient of Success

By Robert Wilson

In 1907, during a major league baseball game, second base was stolen 13 times by the winning team. The catcher for the losing team, Branch Rickey, was unable to pick off even a single runner. That record stands to this day. It also spelled the end of Rickey’s career as a baseball player, after just two short seasons. With nothing else to do, he went to college and law school.

Six years later, he returned to major league baseball, this time as a manager. And what a manager he turned out to be! He created the modern baseball farm system which enables major league teams to nurture and develop future stars through their minor league teams. He was the first to establish a permanent spring training facility in Florida. He changed the way statistical analysis is used in baseball by proving that on-base percentage is more important than batting average. Branch Rickey is best known, however, for breaking the color barrier by bringing African-American Jackie Robinson into the major leagues. It earned him a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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