On this date 91 years ago the Cardinals named one of the most noteworthy general managers in team history to be their field boss.
Branch Rickey -- who later gained notoriety by creating the minor league farm system while with St. Louis and for breaking the race barrier by signing Jackie Robinson and promoting him to the Dodgers --didn't pan out quite as well as a skipper.
He got his first chance as manager with the St. Louis Browns from 1913-15 where he put together a 139-179 record. Rickey took over a last place Cardinals club in 1919 and improved them only one position in the standings with a 54-83 record after his first season. But, while also serving as president of the team and as its GM, Rickey was able to hold onto the job until 1925 despite only three winning seasons in seven years on the bench. His overall record was 458-485 when he was relieved 38 games into his final season.
Owner Sam Breadon reportedly asked him to step down and Rickey Refused. So Breadon had no choice but to fire him as skipper -- freeing Ricky up to focus on his other duties. Ricky tried to quit the club altogether claiming that he would be "ruined" by the loss of the field boss job. But Breadon famously told Rickey he had been done the greatest favor that one man ever did for another.
Never miss a local story.
Rickey was replaced in the 1925 campaign by Cardinals second baseman Rogers Hornsby. The Rajah led the team to a 64-51 record the rest of the season and in his first full season, 1926, he led the Redbirds to their first World Series victory.
Hornsby was traded in a salary dispute after the 1926 season and replaced as manager by catcher Bob O'Farrell. But the Rickey built Redbirds roster developed into a powerhouse for years to come, winning pennants in 1928, '30, '31 and '34 and the World Series in the latter two seasons. Rickey rebuilt the Cardinals in the late 1930s and early 1940s for another run. The Birds won the World Series in 1942 before Rickey resigned at the end of the season. But the club still had his fingerprints all over it when it won the National League penant in 1943 and the World Series in 1944 and '46.