Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30, 1925: Rickey Out; Hornsby In As The Cardinals Skipper

     On May 30, 1925, Sam Breadon informed Branch Rickey that Rogers Hornsby would take over as a player/manager of the St. Louis Cardinals after the club stumbled out of the gate with a 13-25 record. The club had lost five in a row when Breadon made the move to his star batsman. It proved to be what was best for the team, as Hornsby led the club to a 64-51 record the rest of the way, then would go onto lead the way to a World Championship in 1926.

     The move seemingly sparked the club, as they rattled off four wins in a row under the guidance of Hornsby. While Breadon did declare that all was good with Rickey, it has been said that he considered quitting before embracing his role in the front office. The fact of the matter is, Rickey was not the best manager. He could see talent in a field on a passing train, however, his record from the end of the bench speaks for itself. He posted a 458-485 record over seven seasons, never finishing better than third in the National League. Only three of those seasons were winning seasons, and only twice was he able to guide the club to more than 80 wins.

     Not only did this decision by Breadon help the team win their first championship with Hornsby captaining the ship, it also helped Rickey find his true calling as a GM. Rickey had already started the minor league system at that point, but in this new role he would help expand the system, which would lead to sustained success for the Redbirds. Decade after successful decade would follow, as the club won nine pennants and six championships between 1926 and 1946.

     Hornsby managed the club through the end of that 1926 season, celebrated as a the hero who brought home a title, then was traded away in the offseason. The same man who he took over for would pull the trigger on the deal that sent Hornsby to New York, which proved to be quite the deal for the Cardinals as well, as Frankie Frisch was who came to St. Louis in return. Breadon and Rickey alike were not afraid to ruffle some feathers if it meant the Cardinals would be flying atop the standings, at that is exactly what they did.

     Rickey left the club in the Fall of '42, however, he forever left his mark on the team. He even made his way back in 1964. Although, his time has come and gone, and  his effectiveness as a senior consultant was less than what was expected to say the least. With that said, what Rickey did with the Cardinals will always make him an elite member from the organization's past.

     A lesson that can be taken from what was probably a bad day for Branch Rickey after being told he would no longer be managing the club: Focus on the things to come. Know that great things can spawn out of bad moments in your life. At times, those bad moments build character, give you drive, then lead you to the roads you are destined to travel on.

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