The one-man play, “Rickey,” received additional exposure through a performance at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., on May 30.
Created by Jerry Holt, associate professor of English, the play focuses on the story of Branch Rickey, the former Brooklyn Dodgers baseball executive responsible for making Jackie Robinson the first African-American player in the major leagues in 1947.
Holt developed the play while he was a faculty member and administrator at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. The play was performed in a variety of locations in the past 20 years, including a 50th anniversary celebration of Robinson’s entry into the major leagues, the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame, and in conjunction with the Ken Burns’ film on the sport.
Holt credits the influences of Rickey’s growing up in the Portsmouth, Ohio, area and his devout Methodist upbringing as critical in his thinking.
“He (Rickey) never acquired what it was to be prejudiced,” Holt said. “It
was one time when baseball led the way in social change. As we have seen recently, sports don’t like to do politics.”
Karen Bishop Morris, then the chair of the English department and now dean of the Honors College, represented the university at the event, since Holt was unable to attend.