More about Branch Rickey and the Founding of FCA
The Branch Rickey Service Award is named after “Founder of Baseball” Branch Rickey. Rickey, a devout Christian, was a key player in the founding of FCA.
In 1954, FCA’s founder, Don McClanen, dreamed of a sports ministry where professional athletes would endorse Jesus in the same way they endorsed products. McClanen wrote letters to 19 national sports influencers. While 14 replied that they wanted to be involved, McClanen did not hear from Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Branch Rickey. Rickey had gained fame for inventing baseball’s affiliated minor league system while running the St. Louis Cardinals organization and for knocking down the game’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization.
McClanen tried persistently to meet with Rickey because he sensed his support would influence the future impact of FCA. Finally, Rickey’s secretary told McClanen that if he wanted to drive to Pittsburgh for the possibility of a five-minute meeting, she wouldn’t stop him. In August 1954, McClanen got his five-minute meeting with Rickey. Instead of five minutes, it lasted five hours.