Q&A with SL president Don Mincher
Q&A with TL president Tom Kayser
Q&A with FSL president Chuck Murphy
Pacific Coast League owner/president Branch B. Rickey has been involved with baseball professionally since 1963, when he landed a job as a business manager in the Appalachian League.
Baseball in Rickey's family goes back longer than that, as both his father and grandfather were front office executives with St. Louis, Brooklyn and Pittsburgh during some of the game's formative years. His grandfather, who is credited with the founding of the "farm system" and the introduction of the batting helmet, is best known for signing Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers, thereby breaking the game's color barrier in 1947.
After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan University, Branch B. Rickey served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Venezuela and subsequently as a U.S. recruitment director for the Corps. He later returned to baseball and worked in player development with the Pirates, Reds and Royals in the '70s and '80s.
In 1991, he became president of the American Association, which dissolved when the Triple-A was reorganized from three leagues into two, at which time Rickey assumed his position with the PCL. Rickey grew up in Rockville Center, N.Y., and currently lives in Colorado Springs.
What makes the Pacific Coast League special?
Great owners, great management and superlative markets. And a very healthy relationship with Major League Baseball.
Outside of the PCL, what's your favorite Minor League ballpark?
One of the ones that has such a special niche for me is the Indianapolis ballpark [Victory Field]. At the time it was built, it was one of the first of the new ballparks, which sits on the southwest corner of the immediate downtown area.
Just over the centerfield wall is the skyline of Indianapolis -- the beautiful, beautiful skyline of Indianapolis. I have not been in a park that so perfectly displays a downtown area. It's breathtaking. And when that evening sun turns to a reddish color and the downtown starts glowing, it's a sight worth seeing.
Who is the best player you've seen come through the Pacific Coast League?
I think a guy who was one of the most magical was Tony Gwynn.
What's the one initiative you'd like to see accomplished before your term is up?
I think it would be fun -- a change -- to see the Pacific Coast League have a relaxed year [Rickey says with a tongue-in-cheek laugh]. Because in the time that I've been with the Pacific Coast League, this league has been so vibrant with change, with all of the things going on.
I didn't come to the Pacific Coast League anticipating so much excitement. I didn't envision in my time the league moving out of Canada from Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, and coming back to the United States, with successful new markets in Sacramento and Round Rock.
So the character of the league has changed significantly. As wonderful as the Pacific Coast League is, and with all of its history, it really has such a dynamic, modern character.
What's your favorite offseason activity?
I love a chance to spend time with my family here in Colorado Springs and my grandchildren in Philadelphia, and get away to the beach every now and then. I also like to spend time on carpentry - I'm seen as somewhat of an addict.
Being the league president is...
A novel experience everyday.
What's the best thing about Minor League Baseball?
The privilege of being part of an ongoing tradition so embedded in our culture.
Andrew Tarica is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.