who since 1947 had been elevated to the position of assistant general manager
Robert Rice’s proﬁle contained only a passing comment fifa 15 coins that Rickey owned and operated the Dodgers with “two silent associates,” Walter O’Malley and John L. Smith. In July 1950, however, the silent associates became widely known as the fates conspired to accelerate Branch Rick- ey’s departure from Brooklyn. As Rickey and Walter O’Malley were meet- ing in Chicago with other Major League Baseball owners the day before the All-Star Game at Comiskey Park, word came from Brooklyn that John L. Smith had died of cancer at age ﬁfty-eight. The pharmaceutical mogul had survived an operation in 1946 to continue leading a vigorous life and in his last months had even assumed new duties as chairman of the board of Pﬁzer. It was a sad irony that his company, which pioneered in mass producing penicillin and saved the lives of thousands of wounded World War Two soldiers, had just put into production another antibiotic, terramycin, that might have prolonged Smith’s life if he had lived.
Passing up the All-Star Game, Rickey and O’Malley ﬂew immediately back to New York on the team plane to attend the funeral. Only pleas- antries, if that, were exchanged on the ﬂight to Brooklyn. With Smith having passed away, Rickey knew the odds were stacked against continu- ing his tenure in Brooklyn and, ideally, one day handing the reins over to Branch Rickey Jr., who since 1947 had been elevated to the position of assistant general manager.
Not only had Walter O’Malley led the opposition to Rickey’s receiving an extension of his lucrative contract, but the lawyer had been openly courting the support of Smith’s wife (and now widow), Mary Louise “Mae” Smith. “You don’t want to entrust the business to that ‘farmer,’ do you?” New York Herald Tribune sportswriter Harold Rosenthal more than once overheard O’Malley denigrating Rickey to Mrs. Smith.17 O’Malley was obviously referring to his partner’s ungainly way of walking, his oc- casionally slovenly dress, and the regular afternoon naps he took in his ofﬁce, work breaks Rickey likened to the ones the farmers took in his father’s alfalfa ﬁelds. The small-town Ohioan at times would even nap on the ﬂoor of the Dodgers team plane, causing alarm among associates who did not know where he had wandered.