Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season by Jonathan Eig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Eig's biography of Jack Roosevelt Robinson's first year as a Brooklyn Dodger is a scrupulously balanced account of an oft-told legend. Eig reseaches many of the stories told about Robinson's rookie season such as Pee Wee Reese's gesture of support for Robinson by giving Jackie a shoulder hug during a game when the opposing team cursed and jeered baseball's first modern black player. Eig is somewhat skeptical that it happened, if at all, as the stories about the hug claim.
Robinson is portrayed as a complex hero who felt very deeply hurt by prejudicial treatment, but chose to follow Brooklyn General Manager Branch Rickey's direction not to fight back when attacked. Instead Jackie chose to challenge his angry through his play. Eig demonstrates that it was Jackie's presence, particularly his speed and daring on the basepaths that enabled an otherwise average Dodger team to win the National League pennant in 1947.
I would recommend this book to baseball fans, social scientists, and history lovers for its honest portrayal of a game and a nation in the process of change.
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