Ohio born and bred (Flat, Ohio), he played baseball in southern Ohio and coached at Ohio Wesleyan and Michigan University. After a mediocre career as a player and manager, he spent half a century in the front office as one of professional baseball's greatest visionary executives.With the St. Louis Cardinals in the 20's and 30's, Rickey invented the modern farm system, promoting a new way of training and developing players. Later with the Brooklyn Dodgers, he pioneered the use of baseball statistics. In 1945, he became the first executive to break baseball's color line when he signed Jackie Robinson, who became the modern Major Leagues' first African-American player. Rickey was also instrumental in introducing batting helmets to big league baseball and developing and promoting protective headgear.