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Branch Rickey Memorabilia on Display at Ohio Wesleyan University
OWU Alumnus, “Baseball’s Last Wise Man” also Remembered in New Digital Library Project

September 30, 2009

DELAWARE, OH – The legacy of Branch Rickey, a 1904 Ohio Wesleyan University graduate and ESPN’s most influential sports figure of the 20th century, is being celebrated at his alma mater with a newly created art exhibit and a just-launched online archive of early photographs and documents. Rickey is credited with helping to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier in the 1940s by signing Jackie Robinson.

“In 1913, Rickey wrote that ‘Ohio Wesleyan has been very largely responsible for whatever good is in me, and is to be credited with whatever good I may have done,’ ” said Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “He continues to inspire the world with his courage and vision, and we are proud to honor him with these exciting projects.”

The art exhibit, REMEMBERING MR. RICKEY: Memorabilia of “Baseball’s Last Wise Man” will be on display through Nov. 10 in OWU’s Gallery 2001, located inside Beeghly Library, 43 Rowland Ave. A special opening reception, featuring remarks from President Jones, will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. The event is free and open to the public.

In addition to the art exhibit, Ohio Wesleyan library archivists have painstakingly created a digital collection of historical photographs, university publications, and other materials featuring Rickey and documenting his roles as an OWU student, coach, athletic director, and lifetime trustee. The Branch Rickey Collection is available at rickeycollection.owu.edu.

It was during his time as an OWU baseball coach that Rickey experienced firsthand the devastating effects of racial segregation and became determined to change the divisive practice. During a trip to Indiana, Rickey’s catcher, Charles Thomas, a black student from Zanesville, Ohio, was denied lodging at a South Bend hotel because of his race. Rickey was outraged and insisted on a room for his player, threatening to cancel the upcoming game if his demands weren’t met. Finally, the clerk allowed Thomas to stay in Rickey’s room as an unregistered guest. For Rickey, the moment was eye-opening and life-changing.

The Branch Rickey Collection is accessible online via OhioLINK’s Digital Resource Commons, a statewide platform for saving and sharing—free of charge—instructional, research, historic, and creative materials produced by the University System of Ohio and Ohio’s private colleges.

Hours for Ohio Wesleyan’s Gallery 2001 art gallery coincide with the hours for Beeghly Library, which are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

To read more about Rickey and his legacy, visit mrrickey.owu.edu/history.html.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 45 states and 39 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.