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Branch B. Rickey to Discuss Grandfather’s Baseball, Business Legacies
Rickey to Present Ohio Wesleyan University’s Heisler Business Ethics Lecture on Jan. 27

January 10, 2011

Branch B. Rickey.
Photo courtesy of Branch B. Rickey
DELAWARE, OH – The history-making partnership between Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson, which broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier in the 1940s, was “at bottom a business partnership,” William McGurn wrote in his recent Wall Street Journal column.

“To describe it this way is not to belittle it,” McGurn wrote on Aug. 24, 2010. “To the contrary, recognizing the business aspect of this enterprise helps explain not only why it succeeded, but why it succeeded as smoothly as it did.”

Rickey’s grandson, Branch B. Rickey, will explore the business facets of the Rickey-Robinson relationship on Jan. 27, when he presents Ohio Wesleyan University’s annual Heisler Business Ethics Lecture. His presentation, “More than Sport: The Branch Rickey-Jackie Robinson Legacy,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Gray Chapel inside OWU’s University Hall, 61 S. Sandusky St. The event is free and open to the public. It also is scheduled to be streamed online at StreamOWU.

Both grandfather and grandson are graduates of Ohio Wesleyan. Branch Rickey graduated from the university in 1904, and Branch B. Rickey earned his OWU degree in 1967. Today, the younger Rickey is president of Minor League Baseball’s Pacific Coast League.

Of his grandfather’s courage and vision, Rickey has said: “[Y]ou don’t have to compromise your integrity to be a success, in spite of widespread indication from studying biographies, and reading political journalism to the contrary. You may have to compromise on your time, on where you live, or vacation, on what income you make, on all those things that increase in adversity when you aren’t in the mainstream – but not your integrity.”

Before becoming president of the Pacific Coast League in 1997, Rickey spent more than 20 years in Major League Baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds as a scout, assistant scouting director, and player development director.

He began his professional career with the Pirates at age 17, simultaneously serving as business manager of the team’s rookie league affiliate and pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Ohio Wesleyan. After graduation, Rickey, a philosophy major, volunteered with the Peace Corps in Venezuela and worked as a Peace Corps campus recruiter. He returned to baseball in 1972, when he became assistant director of the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy in Sarasota, Fla.

Rickey’s presentation highlights a weeklong celebration of Branch Rickey-Jackie Robinson Week at Ohio Wesleyan, with additional community events planned daily from Jan. 24-27. The week will include free movies, a character actor performance, a baseball roundtable discussion, and a Ross Art Museum exhibit.

Ohio Wesleyan’s annual Heisler Business Ethics Lecture is sponsored by the university’s Woltemade Center for Economics, Business and Entrepreneurship and funded by the Heisler Family Endowment for the Study of Ethics. The endowment honors OWU graduates James Heisler, Class of 1938; Robert Heisler, Class of 1942; and Bruce Heisler, Class of 1949. The Woltemade Center, founded in 1985, helps students to integrate business theory and practice, and provides lectures and other resources to benefit students, faculty, and the local community.

Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 45 states and 52 countries. Ohio Wesleyan earned a 2009 Presidential Award for Excellence in General Community Service, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.