Branch Rickey: A Life (Penguin Lives) Info

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The book that inspired Harrison Ford in his portrayal of
Branch Rickey in the hit movie “42”

In a brilliant
match between author and subject, this latest addition to the Penguin
Lives series features the inimitable Jimmy Breslin telling the
rags-to-riches tale of Branch Rickey, the legendary manager of the
Brooklyn Dodgers who integrated baseball by putting Jackie Robinson into
the major leagues. Moving from the dusty Midwest towns where Rickey
built baseball's farm system to the Brooklyn streets where he hatched
his most famous plan, Breslin brilliantly captures the heady days when
baseball became the national pastime. What emerges is the irresistible
story of a schemer and redeemer, a great American who remade a sport-and
dreamed of remaking a country. See Branch Rickey’s life brought
to the screen in the hit movie “42” in theaters everywhere
now.


Average Ratings and Reviews
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3.96

516 Ratings

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Reviews for Branch Rickey: A Life (Penguin Lives):

1

Jan 08, 2014

Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin
147 pages

★ (the rarely seen one star from me)

Brach Rickey is best known for being the first man to break the color-barrier in Major League Baseball by signing Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers. But besides that, he was the innovator of introducing many things that are still used within the sport today such as batting helmets, batting cages, sabermetrics, and farming aka minor league baseball teams (note: do not be confused that he was the inventor of these things, he Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin
147 pages

★ (the rarely seen one star from me)

Brach Rickey is best known for being the first man to break the color-barrier in Major League Baseball by signing Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers. But besides that, he was the innovator of introducing many things that are still used within the sport today such as batting helmets, batting cages, sabermetrics, and “farming” aka minor league baseball teams (note: do not be confused that he was the inventor of these things, he just was the one to start implementing them).

I don’t know how I got through this book. Branch Rickey contributed so much to baseball and yet so much is missed in this book. I know it’s a short book (in comparison to some of his biographies which are over 700 pages) but I think the author could have gotten in a lot of important details if he didn’t dedicate PAGES to word-by-word testimonies on a minor situation Robinson was in when he was younger (more specifically statements from many whites when Robinson refused to move to the back of a bus. I realize it may be important to know their reaction but the author went overboard in 10 pages worth of statements). He probably could have accomplished more detail on Rickey (you know...who the book is about) if the author didn’t focus on himself so much – for instance when he talks about Rickey’s smoking habit but then goes into his own story on how he used to smoke and his reasons for quitting the habit. Really Mr. Author? I don’t care. The author also goes back and forth on past and present tense when writing the book which was annoying and unnecessary, in my opinon. The author seems to focus on Jackie Robinson but not so much on his interaction with Branch Rickey. If I were to hand you this book and told you to read it without knowing the title, I think one would easily be confused what this book is actually about. I’m not into sports but I can’t blame that for the reason for my huge distaste in this book. I wanted to give up on this book so badly but stuck with it. It’s one redeeming quality? It was short.
...more
4

Mar 27, 2011

A masterful book by Breslin about the man who brought Jackie Robinson into the major leagues. Rickey did this because he thought it was right and because he wanted to win games. Breslin's style is unique making this short book a pleasure to read.
4

Mar 30, 2011

Should I give this book 3 or 4 stars? Since I am a baseball fan, let's go around the horn on this one. Jimmy Breslin brings us back to the day s of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, a Methodist, who really broke the colored line in baseball.

Without Rickey no Robinson. No integrated baseball. Written in journalistic Breslin style tough Jamaica, NY boy talk this book is not only a book about baseball it is about life. Our American culture which includes the national pastime.

For a man that did not Should I give this book 3 or 4 stars? Since I am a baseball fan, let's go around the horn on this one. Jimmy Breslin brings us back to the day s of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, a Methodist, who really broke the colored line in baseball.

Without Rickey no Robinson. No integrated baseball. Written in journalistic Breslin style tough Jamaica, NY boy talk this book is not only a book about baseball it is about life. Our American culture which includes the national pastime.

For a man that did not drink but smoked cigars and took 10% of players salaries when he sold them to other minor league baseball clubs. Businessman, baseball player,lawyer, general manager, coach, husband.,
we need more Rickeys and less Barry Bonds steroid nonsense.

Everyone who loves New York baseball should read this book, a must.

...more
3

Jun 13, 2016

I think I possess a slightly above average knowledge on most things baseball. I'm aware of the vast influence Branch Rickey made on baseball. He literally changed the game. Jackie Robinson, the farm system, and, personally, his influence on my home team- the St. Louis Cardinals- winning us several pennants....Rickey is a key to why and how the game is played today.
The book took some odd turns. The author was alright. If anything, this book encouraged me to learn and read more about Rickey. I think I possess a slightly above average knowledge on most things baseball. I'm aware of the vast influence Branch Rickey made on baseball. He literally changed the game. Jackie Robinson, the farm system, and, personally, his influence on my home team- the St. Louis Cardinals- winning us several pennants....Rickey is a key to why and how the game is played today.
The book took some odd turns. The author was alright. If anything, this book encouraged me to learn and read more about Rickey. Overall, not bad. ...more
2

Dec 21, 2014

Disappointing. There wasn't much in the book that I didn't already know. I didn't care for the writing style either.
2

Jun 10, 2012



I expected so much more and I didn't like the writing style.
3

Mar 09, 2012

There were some good old-fashioned baseball stories in here. The kind that I could imagine old-timers in Ken Burns' Baseball telling. There were also some not-as-interesting stories, especially towards the end, that made me rate the book a 3. It is a quick enough read that if you are a Jackie Robinson (or Branch Rickey!) fan it is def. worth reading.
3

Apr 11, 2014

Breslin has a way with telling a story "his way", whether you like it or not. I mostly liked it. He assumes you know certain details as public knowledge which can leave younger readers who have a loose grip on historical facts, in the dark. His style is gritty, and that of an aged wise sportswriter telling stories to you. Mostly a good read.
2

Nov 06, 2013

I think, in his old age, Jimmy Breslin has become a caricature of himself. His short book about Branch Rickey, the Yankees manager who integrated major league baseball by signing Jackie Robinson, was so full of hectic patter I didn' know any more about the subject after reading it than I did before.
3

Feb 06, 2014

Breslin's style works for newspaper articles and investigative reporting, but this book was too much Breslin and not enough Rickey. And though Rickey is mostly known for signing Jackie Robinson, this book was very light on the rest of his life and on his other contributions to baseball. But I did learn some new things, and, fortunately, it was relatively short.
3

Jun 15, 2011

Reading Jimmy Breslin's short biography of Branch Rickey, the man behind bringing Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball, is kind of like listening to a charming old drunk guy at a family party. He has a good story to tell about the good old days. Of course, you don't always know how each part fits into the next. But doesn't matter because he's keeping you entertained enough that you want to grab him another beer from the cooler and keep him talking.
3

Apr 22, 2011

What began as a great, short exploration of Branch Rickey devolved by the end into a rambling account of things associated with Rickey but not Rickey. The last half became emotive, and wrapped up in Breslin's personal stories, which confused me and left me unsatisfied. On a good note, the incident with soldier Jackie Robinson on the bus (for which he was almost court martialed) is clearly and colorfully explained.
4

Feb 01, 2012

This is a beautiful biography, though biography is not quite the right word. Essentially Breslin meditates on the subject of Rickey, baseball, the color barrier, and other things, all within the context of Rickey's life. It's short, and fascinating. I picked it up in a bookstore and read the first page with little intention to read more, and ended up buying the book and finishing it, all in the middle of one very busy day.
3

Jun 29, 2011

Never been a big Jimmy Breslin fan, but I'm a huge Branch Rickey fan. This disjointed book was very confusing. Breslin jumps between topics, sometimes doing an entire chapter that doesn't even mention Rickey. Right at the start, Breslin explains he doesn't like to write about people unless he actually talks to them or at the very least to people who knew them well. He does neither with this book, so it is very unsatisfying.
1

Feb 14, 2014

I was excited to read this; baseball is the best game ever, and the story of Branch Rickey has always fascinated me. I understand that any story of Rickey is woefully incomplete without discussing Jackie Robinson - they're like peanut butter & jelly. But this story is so disjointed and poorly written, and contains so little new material, that it's truly hard to believe it was written by a Pulitzer Prize winner.
0

Jul 28, 2011

This is a delightfully funny, wry look at a remarkable man. Branch Rickey was responsible for integrating major league baseball in the US. He is the man that signed Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers in 1947, and who supported and encouraged Mr. Robinson through that extraordinary time. Breslin, in this short biography, reveals a man who decided he had a goal, and who did whatever it took to make it happen: he spoke to owners, commissioners, politicians, players, and never once let the word This is a delightfully funny, wry look at a remarkable man. Branch Rickey was responsible for integrating major league baseball in the US. He is the man that signed Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers in 1947, and who supported and encouraged Mr. Robinson through that extraordinary time. Breslin, in this short biography, reveals a man who decided he had a goal, and who did whatever it took to make it happen: he spoke to owners, commissioners, politicians, players, and never once let the word "no" stop him. ...more
3

Jan 06, 2013

A breezy book about Branch Rickey. Written by the well-known New York journalist, Jimmy Breslin,Branch Rickey entertains but as if in a crowded bar. Breslin informally tells his story but jumps around, gets distracted, and constructs sentences reflecting one drink too many.

Happy hour doesn't last long, the book is short and sweet: 146 pages. I enjoyed "listening" to Breslin's writing style. Fortunately, he follows a basic chronology and drops gems during the telling, so one must pay attention.
3

Aug 10, 2012

Breslin brings a new perspective on Jackie Robinson in this book. Jackie was no saint prior to being taken under the wing of Rickey. Rickey, according to Breslin, had to work with Jackie on a consistent basis to teach him how to react to the racism he would soon encounter in baseball. Breslin also explain the politics involved in Brooklyn, and in baseball that Rickey encountered just to get an opportunity to break the color barrier. The book is a quick read and sheds light on the motivation of Breslin brings a new perspective on Jackie Robinson in this book. Jackie was no saint prior to being taken under the wing of Rickey. Rickey, according to Breslin, had to work with Jackie on a consistent basis to teach him how to react to the racism he would soon encounter in baseball. Breslin also explain the politics involved in Brooklyn, and in baseball that Rickey encountered just to get an opportunity to break the color barrier. The book is a quick read and sheds light on the motivation of Branch Rickey to bring African Americans into baseball. ...more
3

Jul 16, 2015

Rated this book down as it spent more time focusing on Jackie Robinson than Branch Rickey. After getting done with the Stan Musial book I wanted to learn more about Branch Rickey. While this book does give a little insight into his background, it jumped around and was confusing at times. At times it told the story that was told in the movie 42. Based on the Stan Musial book, there was a lot of successes and failures of Branch Rickey in St. Louis and the books spends little time focusing on his Rated this book down as it spent more time focusing on Jackie Robinson than Branch Rickey. After getting done with the Stan Musial book I wanted to learn more about Branch Rickey. While this book does give a little insight into his background, it jumped around and was confusing at times. At times it told the story that was told in the movie 42. Based on the Stan Musial book, there was a lot of successes and failures of Branch Rickey in St. Louis and the books spends little time focusing on his time in the Lou. This was definitely a NY author. ...more
3

Apr 01, 2013

Could be retitled "Branch Rickey Breaks the Color Line". A majority of this short book is on Rickey's moral sense and his actions to break the color line in baseball. This isn't the typical baseball book -- there were way fewer baseball anecdotes. This was in part due to the shortness of the book, and in part due to the focus. Large sections of the book were about Jackie Robinson and others, so even Rickey didn't have the staring role throughout. I enjoyed the baseball and history of the story, Could be retitled "Branch Rickey Breaks the Color Line". A majority of this short book is on Rickey's moral sense and his actions to break the color line in baseball. This isn't the typical baseball book -- there were way fewer baseball anecdotes. This was in part due to the shortness of the book, and in part due to the focus. Large sections of the book were about Jackie Robinson and others, so even Rickey didn't have the staring role throughout. I enjoyed the baseball and history of the story, and at times I enjoyed Breslin's writing, but he approached this as a social history and that wasn't what I was looking for. 3 stars for the baseball and Rickey stories, 2 for the rest. ...more
5

Oct 04, 2012

This book moves really quickly as the author tells the story of not only Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson but a whole host of characters from that era. The story moves very much like one would expect of an old-time sports reporter...he gets to the point of the matter while making sure to touch on side notes of this or that additional moment from well before 1947 or well after it.

While I can't say that I am a fan of sports writers in general, as they tend to sell their view instead of reporting This book moves really quickly as the author tells the story of not only Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson but a whole host of characters from that era. The story moves very much like one would expect of an old-time sports reporter...he gets to the point of the matter while making sure to touch on side notes of this or that additional moment from well before 1947 or well after it.

While I can't say that I am a fan of sports writers in general, as they tend to sell their view instead of reporting the story...this book doesn't attempt to sell anything other than what happened and why it happened.

Even if you are not a sports or basbeball fan, this book is interesting just from its historical perspective of black history.

...more
3

Jul 25, 2014

Terrific short biography of Branch Rickey, the General Manager and partial owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who forever changed baseball by signing Jackie Robinson. And that's not all he did... Both a major league player and very successful Manager and GM in St Louis (Browns + Cardinals), Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, he was an innovator. For example he is credited with developing the 'farm system' now used by every major league team.

But the story, told in Breslin's stylized way, is really about Terrific short biography of Branch Rickey, the General Manager and partial owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who forever changed baseball by signing Jackie Robinson. And that's not all he did... Both a major league player and very successful Manager and GM in St Louis (Browns + Cardinals), Brooklyn and Pittsburgh, he was an innovator. For example he is credited with developing the 'farm system' now used by every major league team.

But the story, told in Breslin's stylized way, is really about Rickey's strategy of integrating baseball and how he carried that out. I definitely admire Rickey, even though he is part of the hated Dodgers organization history. However I'm really left with admiration and interest in reading more about Jackie Robinson.

Well done - 3 Stars.

★ = Horrid waste of time
★★ = May be enjoyable to some, but not me
★★★ = I am glad I read it
★★★★ = Very enjoyable and something I'd recommend
★★★★★ = A rare find, simply incredible ...more
3

Aug 04, 2015

If you are looking for a detailed, unbiased book on the life of Branch Ricky, you'd better look elsewhere. This is a Jimmy Breslin book, which means you are going to get a lot of tangential stuff; some of it personal and some of it only tenuously connected to Ricky. Personally, I love this style of writing which is much more fun to read than some dry recounting of events, but whether you will like it depends on your expectations.

The great point this book makes is that attitudes have to change If you are looking for a detailed, unbiased book on the life of Branch Ricky, you'd better look elsewhere. This is a Jimmy Breslin book, which means you are going to get a lot of tangential stuff; some of it personal and some of it only tenuously connected to Ricky. Personally, I love this style of writing which is much more fun to read than some dry recounting of events, but whether you will like it depends on your expectations.

The great point this book makes is that attitudes have to change before social progress can be made. Breslin focuses attention on the way Ricky engineered acceptance of Jackie Robinson by orchestrating attitudes within the the Brooklyn franchise, as well as with civic leaders, the press, and politicians. Breslin also puts the importance of Robinson into an even greater context as paving the way for the eventual acceptance of a black man in the white house.

A very enjoyable book, if a little disjointed at times. ...more
4

Mar 30, 2014

I never knew about Rickey's incredible eye for baseball talent. He could have a wing of the hall of fame just for his players. Jackie Robinson, who I believe was the best player as well as the best man to ever enter the baseball diamond, understandably is the brightest star in constellation created by Branch Rickey, but it also included Dizzy Dean, Roy Campanella, and Roberto Clemente to name a few. Many of the men Mr. Rickey put on the field shown as brightly off the field for their care and I never knew about Rickey's incredible eye for baseball talent. He could have a wing of the hall of fame just for his players. Jackie Robinson, who I believe was the best player as well as the best man to ever enter the baseball diamond, understandably is the brightest star in constellation created by Branch Rickey, but it also included Dizzy Dean, Roy Campanella, and Roberto Clemente to name a few. Many of the men Mr. Rickey put on the field shown as brightly off the field for their care and compassion, as their talent did on the field.

Breslin drips Brooklyn in his story telling, and seems truly astonished at Mr. Rickey's character as possibly only a hardened, cynical street kid can be. I was raised in a southern home, a football home,a home where we did not care if another baseball ever crossed the sky. Through Branch Rickey Jimmy Breslin makes obvious to even a football fan that a baseball story is worth the hearing. ...more
1

Sep 13, 2013

The subject matter was enjoyable enough, but I found the writing style very annoying and it felt like the author couldn't get out of the way and just tell a story.

The name of this short book is a perfect example of what I didn't like... "Branch Rickey: A Life"... While Branch Rickey may be a central character, it is hardly a life story. At most it provides minimal depth into his decision to integrate baseball. Other than the fact that he like drinking, I feel like I know nothing more about The subject matter was enjoyable enough, but I found the writing style very annoying and it felt like the author couldn't get out of the way and just tell a story.

The name of this short book is a perfect example of what I didn't like... "Branch Rickey: A Life"... While Branch Rickey may be a central character, it is hardly a life story. At most it provides minimal depth into his decision to integrate baseball. Other than the fact that he like drinking, I feel like I know nothing more about Branch Rickey than I did before starting this book (and the only thing I knew about him before was that he was the GM of the Dodgers when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier).

I thought about stopping several times, but it was short enough and if you can get past the writing style and the way it jumps around between different characters and minimal personal interactions the author may have had at different times, the overall story of Jackie Robinson is a good one. It got two stars largely because I did finish and it was short. ...more

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