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Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy Paperback – May 29, 1997

4.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"The best baseball book of the decade."--Journal of Sports History


"Rich, intelligent cultural history.... Fascinating."--The New York Times


About the Author


Jules Tygiel, a native of Brooklyn, is Professor of History at San Francisco State University and founder of the Pacific Ghost League. He is the author of The Great Los Angeles Swindle: Oil, Stocks, and Scandal During the Roaring Twenties.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Exp Sub edition (May 29, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195106202
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195106206
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.1 x 5.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,657,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Professor Tygiel's book is the definitive work on the importance of Jackie Robinson to American history. Tygiel writes a well-researched, dynamic narrative that illustrates Robinson's incredible achievements and strength of character. This book, unlike others on Robinson, focuses on the years before and after 1947 as well. By doing this, Tygiel reveals the impact of Robinson's achievement in the context of the emerging civil rights movement. Jackie Robinson's story was not his alone- it was the story of the ballplayers who came after him. The book also shows how Robinson's courageous seasons personified the changing American conscience regarding race in the post-war era.
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Format: Paperback
I purchased this book to learn more about Jackie Robinson and his relationship with Branch Rickey. Jules Tygiel gave me that (in an unbiased, thorough manner with great historical perspective) and then some! I gained an increased appreciation for the role of the Negro Leagues in the development of Major League baseball. I gained insight into the changing perceptions of baseball management, players and fans toward African-Americans and their contributions to the game. I was momentarily transported to that time, not as long ago as I would have thought, where non-white players were treated as second-class citizens. It was really an eye-opener. In addition, Mr. Tygiel's style was so honest and even-handed that I can't wait to read his book, "Past Time: Baseball As History," which I ordered today!
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Format: Hardcover
This scholarly yet readable look at baseball integration from 1947-1959 goes well beyond the inspiring story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. Author Jules Tygiel also informs about such secondary figures as Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, Hank Aaron, Pumpsie Green, etc. Tygiel shows that integration proceeded slowly and in the face of strong resistance - the Boston Red Sox didn't add a black player until 1959, three years after Jackie Robinson retired. We also see how baseball integration spurred civil rights, while hastening the end of the Negro Leagues. I'd have liked more coverage of baseball's declining attendance after 1949 (probably caused by television), and the suspected correlation between athletic dominance and underclass poverty. Still, BASEBALL'S GREAT EXPERIMENT is a well-researched look at an interesting period in sports history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the first half of the twentieth century, Major League Baseball pretended to be a monument for the Land of the Free's national pastime. But actually it was a shameful bulwark of segregation. BASEBALL'S GREAT EXPERIMENT is an enlightening chronicle of how American baseball became integrated--and therefore TRULY American.

Jules Tygiel's first chapter displays fireworks. Jackie Robinson's debut in the Dodger organization propels the reader forward like a fast-paced novel. Then the pace slows down and becomes history. In the next chapter Tygiel flashes back to the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, relating how the few blacks who played in organized baseball were gradually squeezed out. Tom Sawyer's fence got whitewashed.

In the third chapter, Tygiel returns to the 1940s and begins his detailed account of Branch Rickey's affair with integration and Jackie Robinson. It relegates 42--the recent movie--to the status of a peepshow. So if that movie is all you know about this affair, you know practically nothing.

For the last section of the book, you made need to apply yourself. At least I did. It is not quite a scholarly account, but it lacks the narrative flow of the Jackie Robinson section. Even so, it is a cornucopia of precious anecdotes. Baseball players that I knew only as faces on baseball cards became real people, afflicted with the adversities of prejudice and segregation. Can you imagine the great Henry Aaron having to pee alongside the team bus because he was not allowed to use the white restroom?

The trade paperback has disadvantages. Its small typescript may be troublesome, and its printed photos are poor. But the hardcover will not have Tygiel's "Afterword," which updates the book to 2007.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story of the integration of baseball needs to be told again and again, especially in a time when a divided nation tends to forget how far we still have to go when it comes to respecting one another and accepting everyone into not only baseball but society as well.
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Format: Paperback
I went into this book expecting a biography of Jackie Robinson, and I got that, plus even more. Tygiel begins with a detailed account of Robinson's life, but then in the latter part of the book, he drifts away from focusing on just Robinson, and he focuses on blacks in baseball in general. At first, I was a bit disappointed that the focus shifted away from Robinson, but what this shift made me realize was that Robinson had an impact far greater than only what he did himself, and I actually read the latter half of the book twice as fast as it took me to read the former half.

By the end of the book, I truly realized how significant Jackie Robinson was not only to baseball, but to racial progress in the United States as a whole. If you want a well-written biography of Jackie Robinson, then you came to the right spot. If you want a well-written biography of Jackie Robinson AND a true sense of his impact on American sports and American society as a whole, then you came to the right spot as well.

Well done, Jules Tygiel
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