"Luck is the residue of design” was a popular saying of Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey (1881-1965), who gave lectures using this catchphrase in 1946. However, Rickey had used “luck is the residue of design” at least as early as November 1915, when he was the baseball manager of the St. Louis Browns.
“Luck is the residue of design is often credited to English poet John Milton (1608-1674)—specifically “At a Vacation Exercise in the Colledge” (1628)—but the saying does not appear in any of Milton’s writings.
Wikipedia: Branch Rickey
Wesley Branch Rickey (December 20, 1881 – December 9, 1965) was an innovative Major League Baseball executive elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967. He was known for breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing African American player Jackie Robinson, for drafting the first Hispanic superstar, Roberto Clemente, for creating the framework for the modern minor league farm system, for encouraging the Major Leagues to add new teams through his involvement in the proposed Continental League, and for introducing the batting helmet.
Rickey’s many achievements and deep Christian faith earned him the nickname “the Mahātmā.”
Branch Rickey is attributed with the famous quotation: “Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.” (Quoted by Larry King 7/12/2006.), although 17th century writer John Milton initially coined the phrase.
1 November 1915, Lexington (KY) Herald, pg. 7, col. 4:
LIFE’S BOXSCORE SIMILAR
TO BASEBALL SAYS RICKEY
Manager St. Louis Browns
Addresses Y. M. C. A.
“There is no luck. Luck is the residue of design,” said Branch Rickey, manager of the St. Louis Browns, in a half-hour address to the members of the Y. M. C. A. at State University last night.
Mr. Rickey’s talk was devoted mainly tothe law of cause and effect an in a clear, forceful manner which made an instantaneous hit with the boys, demonstrated the fact that the effect was inevitable. By practical examples, he show (sic) that a man’s life was governed by “causes” and that in order to control his life he should take care of the causes and let the results take care of themselves, choosing, however, the causes with deliberate care. He gave a number of examples to demonstrate his point, and luck, he said, had no place in the lexicon of life, for there was no such thing as luck. Luck, he pointed out, is the residue of design and is governed by causes which are generally in the power of the man himself to govern.
16 February 1946, Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, TX), pg. 5, col. 1:
The other day Rickey discoursed at length on “luck—the residue of design.”
21 February 1946, The Sporting News, “Over—The Fence” by Dan Daniel, pg. 10, col. 3:
Deviltry Denounced at Dodger Tech
SCENE—Lecture Hall at the Dodger Institute of Baseball Technology, Sanford, Fla. Dr. Branch Rickey is speaking. Before him sit 155 young players, 30 faculty members, 15 business managers, 15 minor league pilots, four umpires and eight newspapermen.
DR. RICKEY—Our thesis this morning is, “The wages of gin is breath,” or “You can’t fool the manager.”
FIRST RECRUIT—Doctor, I never did like gin. You can have all of mine from now on.
DR. R.—Young man, when I speak of gin, I mean not only the vile distillation of the innocent juniper berry, but the entire category of intoxicating liquors, the entire list of poisoned oncoctions such as rye, bourbon, Scotch, old fashions and new fashions.
FIRST MANAGER (Sotto voce)—Methinks the Mahatma knoweth too many names.
SECOND MANAGER—Well, he was a catcher on them old, old Yankees, back in the days when Griffith was their manager, and you could get a shot of rye for 15 cents on the corner of Broadway and 156th street, across the street from the Yank park.
DR. R.—Boys, eschew liquor!
FIFTH ROOKIE—The doctor seems to have a cold.
DR. R.—The man who, with besotted brain, stagger forth to his daily duties is he who, when beaten by the clear-eyed opponent, shouts, “Luck, pure luck. That guy wears horseshoes!”
FIFTEENTH ROOKIE—I am licked, 1 to 6, by a no-hitter in Putrid Falls last July, and that ain’t luck, eh?
DR. R.—Luck is the residue of design.
TENTH MANAGER—If that ain’t double talk, I never heard none. Luck is what you ain’t got when you lose.
DR. R.—I say once again, that time is of the essence and luck is the residue of design.
Dr. R.—And I want to leave this thought with you—luck is the residue of design.
TENTH MANAGER—Double talk if I ever heard it.
BOB FINCH—Ten o’clock, doctor.
DR. R.—Scram, everybody!
Your Creative Power:
How to use imagination
By Alex F. Osborn
New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Speaking of the good breaks a hard-hitting batter is alleged to enjoy, Branch Rickey told Arthur Daley: “Luck is the residue of design.” And Daley added this comment: “The good hitter forces the breaks. ... In effect, it’s the law of averages working overtime.”
Quotes Uncovered: Who Worried About Events?
04/16/2009 | 3:12 pm
April 16, 2009 at 10:39 pm
I’ve always seen the Rickey quote as “Luck is the residue of design.” I’ve seen the quote attributed to John Milton’s “At a Vacation Exercise in the College” , but when I read through it, I couldn’t find the quote.
New York City • Sports/Games • (0) Comments • Wednesday, April 18, 2012 • Permalink