When you think of Jackie Robinson, so many things come to mind. Integrity, class, dignity, respect, …..the adjectives are endless. He is the face of racial equality within baseball. He has set the standard for generations to follow on how to be a leader and a great human being. There are several books out on the market that spell out the details of Jackie’s career but I think todays book stands above the rest.
Defining Moments-Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball
Lauri Collier Hillstrom-2013 Omnigraphics
This book has a little different approach from the traditional baseball biography we are all used to. It moves away from the more common approach of a story and seems more like a lesson about baseball. The book is divided into six major and separate sections. It covers how the color line in baseball worked and what Branch Rickey’s experiment hoped to accomplish. It then moves to Jackie Robinson himself where you learn in detail about the man and the player. Struggles associated with joining the major leagues, dealing with threats and continued racism as well as new-found stardom are covered. Finally you see what Robinson was able to accomplish after baseball and how the baseball experiment fueled his desires to join other causes in society.
I tink what was most interesting is that last part about life after baseball. Those of us who read a lot of baseball books and those who are just fans, are well aware of Robinson’s accomplishments on the field. I have never really come across a book that delves into his activities in the civil rights movement in the 60’s. Some others have touched on it but not to this extent. The author gives an interesting perspective on the effect of his personal legacy and how it applies within society.
Also included in this book are short biographies of a few Dodger teammates as well as the Commissioner of Baseball and Larry Doby. It really finished off a complete picture of the Branch Rickey experiment. The final thing I found interesting about this book is each chapter was broken into sub-chapters, It allowed the story to explore the various avenues that each chapter title produced.
The only thing I found odd about the book was the binding. It did not have the traditional feel of a regular book. It gave the feeling of a text-book. Almost like the kind that you would have had back in grade school. It did feel different while holding and reading it but nonetheless it was still a very good book.
Fans of baseball history and Brooklyn Dodger fans alike will enjoy this book. It provides a complete and somewhat unique picture of a man who we already knew very much about.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Omnigraphics