During a week-long celebration held early in 2011, Ohio Wesleyan University deployed packaging to help commemorate Jackie Robinson’s signing by Branch Rickey (OWU-’67) as the first African-American baseball player into Major League Baseball (MLB).
To make it happen, OWU relied on Plastic Technologies Inc., and Bowling Green-based Century Marketing Group (CMG) to pinch-hit for them. At issue was a unique and recently patented dual-cavity bottle called the Smiler--and OWU’s fast-approaching Rickey-Robinson celebration. Emergent Technologies developed the bottle, which is shaped in the form of a sphere. With its shrink-wrapped label, the container resembles a baseball. That caught the attention of Mark Cooper, OWU’s director of marketing and communication.
“When I saw it,” Cooper recalls, “I knew the custom-printed, baseball-shaped bottle would make a great souvenir for our Rickey-Robinson event. We thought we’d fill it with candy and put one of several motivational quotes in the secret compartment underneath. Beyond that, we thought that one bottle could contain a unique quote, with the random recipient of that bottle winning a prize tied to the event. We thought it would make our celebration that much more special.”
When OWU noticed the container in late 2010, it was only available in prototype form. On top of that, there were no customized shrink-wrap labels for the bottle that Cooper wanted to use as a commemorative souvenir. PTI supplied the bottles, CMG fast-tracked the labels, and OWU was able to introduce--for the first time--Emergent’s patented dual-cavity bottle in helping commemorate Branch Rickey-Jackie Robinson Week.
As president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers and former coach of the OWU Battlin’ Bishops baseball team, Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers roster in 1950. He had some help and cooperation from baseball commissioner A.B. "Happy" Chandler and, eventually, the other Brooklyn players. But it was Rickey and Robinson who made history by integrating the long-segregated game. And their actions to end racial segregation in professional sports preceded and helped to set the stage for the U.S. Civil Rights movement of the 1950s.