Author: Lee Lowenfish
What I didn't know was Rickey's role in advancing Major League expansion beyond the original 16 teams. It's worth noting, however, that he didn't get quite what he wanted in that instance. He wanted to start a new eight-team circuit, the Continental League, for which he would have been president. While that didn't pan out, the pressure exerted by Rickey and his backers did force the existing leagues to expand.
Lowenfish's biography is certainly thorough, covering all 83 years of Rickey's life over 598 pages. Glimpses of baseball history are always fun for me and in particular, I learned a lot about the politics around expansion that I didn't know before. Following the sport from an executive's perspective is certainly different from the player view one usually gets in biographies. As can be expected of a book of such length and breadth, the text does frequently get bogged down in details - there's no way I was going to remember all of the players mentioned, for instance, apart from the most colorful superstars. Lowenfish's overuse of words like paterfamilias suggest that more heavy-handed editing might have been in order, too. The writer does lapse into hero worship from time to time, always a danger with biographies, but he succeeds in providing a multi-dimensional view of the subject.
Overall, Branch Rickey is an engaging book that reads surprisingly quickly. I don't know if it holds much interest for anyone not already a baseball fan but I enjoyed it.