The Thirty-Year Journey of a Major League Pitcher and Broadcaster

16 April 2011

New Details Emerge about Branch Rickey's Historic Signing of Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers

Over at Bleacher Report, Tom Kinslow reveals a fascinating new spiritual dimension of Branch Rickey's decision to sign Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus breaking the MLB color barrier.

Branch Rickey was  a devoutly religious man given to sermonizing and speaking to the players in parables. One such parable, which he told Pirates players at the start of spring training in 1955, is the source of the title of Nellie's book:

"Mr. Rickey likened happiness to a 'cur-dog.' There was a worker who was busy painting a garage. Just as he was beginning to paint he noticed a cur dog [a "mutt"] nearby. Fascinated by the dog, he reached down and tried to pet the animal. As soon as he did, the dog ran away. So the painter returned to his job and soon the dog returned. The dog nudged his leg; unaware of the dog, the man kept painting and whistling. Suddenly he felt the dog reaching up and pawing at his thigh. 
Mr. Rickey would go on to explain, 'That's what happiness is. You can't go out looking and searching for it, if you do, it will escape from you and run away like that cur-dog. But if you go about your work, enjoying it, happiness will be there right beside you'."
Today,  Jamie Crawford of CNN.com relates that Rickey came to the decision to sign Robinson after going to a church to do a little soul searching:

This is the era that Nellie writes about so warmly in Happiness is like a Cur Dog. It's a great summer read for baseball fans and history buffs of all ages, and a wonderful introduction to the golden age of baseball for young fans. Consider purchasing it today!

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The Thirty-Year Journey of a Major League Baseball Pitcher and Broadcaster