Jackie Robinson Reader: Perspectives on an American Hero, with Contributions by Roger Kahn, Red Barber, Wendell Smith, Malcolm X, Arthur Mann, and More

Overview

For the fiftieth anniversary of Robinson's stellar debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, leading Robinson expert Jules Tygiel has compiled an impressive array of material, some of which has never before been published. Journalists, friends, historians, biographers, and Robinson himself tell the triumphant yet often troubled life story of this American hero. The grandson of a slave, Robinson overcame his fatherless, destitute childhood and his volatile temper, relying on his moral strength, unassailable determination, ...
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Overview

For the fiftieth anniversary of Robinson's stellar debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, leading Robinson expert Jules Tygiel has compiled an impressive array of material, some of which has never before been published. Journalists, friends, historians, biographers, and Robinson himself tell the triumphant yet often troubled life story of this American hero. The grandson of a slave, Robinson overcame his fatherless, destitute childhood and his volatile temper, relying on his moral strength, unassailable determination, and exceptional athletic skills to face the insults and attacks he endured when he dared to cross baseball's color line.

Featuring contributions by Maury Allen, Red Barber, Arthur Mann, Malcolm X, Roger Kahn, and many others, The Jackie Robinson Reader gathers together writings, many of them previously unpublished, which demonstrate the cultural impact of the first black Major League baseball player's actions and the life of the man himself. 256 pp. National publicity. Print ads. 20,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's probably not possible to publish an uninteresting book about pioneering African American Major Leaguer Jackie Robinson (1919-1972). This year is the 50th anniversary of Robinson's breaking the racial barrier in Major League Baseball. To commemorate that achievement, Tygiel (Baseball's Great Experiment) has collected a variety of writing, both recent and contemporary, to illuminate the life, career and personality of this extraordinary American. Interviews with Robinson's brother Mack (also a world-class athlete) and a college football teammate recall Robinson's brilliant feats in track and field and big-time college football during the 1930s. Tygiel includes his own detailed examination of the failed racist attempt to court-martial the young Lieutenant Robinson in 1944; a wonderful account by legendary black sportswriter Wendell Smith of Robinson's 1946 minor-league debut in Jersey City; a 1979 academic study on the social impact and political clash between Republican-to-be Robinson and the left-wing Paul Robeson; and a fascinating 1963 exchange of letters between Robinson and Malcolm X. (Mar.)
Library Journal
This anthology must be made available as a valuable documenatry source in any library that collects in the areas of sports history or race relations. Selections include editor Tygiel's own piece on the court-martial of Robinson for refusing to move to the back of an officially desegregated bus. There are several accounts of the historic decision by Branch Rickey to bring Robinson into major league baseball, including one by Red Barber, a Southerner who had never questioned segregation before Rickey told him what was going to happen and who had to question his upbringing and his religion to determine the right thing to do. The document by the Major League Steering Committee attempting to justify the exclusion of "Negro" players from the league as being, somehow, not the result of discrimination is an amazing piece of obfuscation and deception. Of particular political interest are the accounts of Robinson's testimony against Paul Robeson before the House Un-American Activities Committee and the exchange of letters between Robinson and Malcolm X. Highly recommended.-Marylaine Block, St. Ambrose Univ. Lib., Davenport, Iowa
Kirkus Reviews
Historian Tygiel (San Francisco State Univ.; Baseball's Great Experiment, 1983, etc.) has fashioned what he calls "an alternative biography" of the man who broke major league baseball's color barrier in 1947.

It's hard to believe anything new could be added to the Robinson story, but Tygiel has uncovered a few previously unpublished pieces that shed new light on Robinson's historic signing with Branch Rickey's Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickey provided the press with emotion-laden, probably apocryphal anecdotes to explain his signing an African-American. Published here for the first time is sportswriter (and later Dodger press secretary) Arthur Mann's "exclusive scoop" on the signing (which Rickey ultimately announced before Mann's piece could appear in Look magazine). According to Tygiel, the piece "provides the first authorized account of Rickey's rationale for signing" Robinson as well as an account of the behind-the-scenes action. Also published for the first time is an August 1946 report of a major league steering committee, "most likely" written by New York Yankees owner Larry MacPhail, that "remains a damning document" about segregationist attitudes held by many of the owners. Arranged chronologically, most of the material here is reprinted from Time or Look magazines, with a few interesting bits from sources such as the Pittsburgh Courier and the Baltimore Afro-American. Some of the great sportswriters are represented here, including Donald Honig and Roger Kahn. Also included are excerpts from Robinson's autobiographies that address his political and personal battles, such as his feud with Paul Robeson and the short, tragic life of his son. His exchange of letters with Malcolm X will prove interesting to social historians.

While the writing styles and the quality vary wildly, and a few of the excerpts are from weak sources (e.g., Maury Allen's 1986 biography), this clever assemblage effectively tells the story.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780737283396
  • Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/1/1997
  • Pages: 278

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pepper Street, Pasadena 15
The Goal Dust Gang 25
The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson 39
"He Did Far More for Me..." 53
"Oh, They Were a Pair" 65
The Negro and Baseball: The National Game Faces a Racial Challenge Long Ignored 71
Jackie Robinson's Signing: The Untold Story 81
It Was a Great Day in Jersey 95
Il a gagne ses epaulets 101
The Race Question 129
The Betrayal of Robinson 135
Rookie of the Year 145
The Integration of Negroes in Baseball 155
The Paul Robeson-Jackie Robinson Saga and a Political Collision 169
September 30, 1951 189
Now I Know Why They Boo Me! 193
A Family Named Robinson 203
Why I'm Quitting Baseball 213
Hall of Famer Still on Cloud 9 219
On Being Black Among the Republicans 223
An Exchange of Letters 237
"Lady, that's Jackie Robinson!" 249
The Lion at Dusk 253
Thousands Mourn Jackie Robinson 275
Appendix Jackie Robinson's Baseball Career 279
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