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Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season Paperback – April 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The author of the acclaimed Luckiest Man (2005)a biography of Lou Gehrig, turns here to another great American sportsman, Jackie Robinson. So elegant in its logic is Eig's angle--chronicling Robinson's first major-league season (1947) with the Brooklyn Dodgers--it's a wonder no one thought of it before. From Robinson's preseason call-up by Brooklyn's legendary GM, Branch Rickey, to the 1947 World Series, in which the Dodgers took the Yankees to a seventh game (Brooklyn lost), Eig details the dynamics of Robinson's hard-earned acceptance by teammates, the well-chronicled abuse Robinson took from opposing fans and players, the response of local and out-of-town press, and the impact the season had on Robinson's family and on African Americans. Eig also shows what a flat-out great player Robinson was that season. If Eig's workmanlike writing style doesn't necessarily pull the reader along, his account of the Dodgers' dramatic 1947 pennant race will. Even Dodger haters--and they are legion--will cheer on the Bums in this fine account. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Allen gives this chronicle...a measured and dignifiedreading, conveying both the excitement of the on-field action and the tense drama of Robinson's journey into the previously all-white world of pro baseball." ---Booklist --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743294610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743294614
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #500,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Eig is the best-selling author of four books: "Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig;" "Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season;" "Get Capone;" and, most recently, "The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution." Booklist called the book "an engrossing and paramount chronicle."
Eig is a former senior writer for The Wall Street Journal. He lives in Chicago with his wife and children. For more information, go to

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on April 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story of Jackie Robinson has been told in several books by many distinguished authors. Now Jonathan Eig, author of the definitive book on Lou Gehrig, has given us a fresh look at the Brooklyn Dodgers of 1947, which was Robinson's initial season with the team. First let me say this man (Eig) can write. This is not a rehash of other stories you may have read. The author skillfully weaves the role of influential individuals such as Branch Rickey, Pee Wee Reese, Harry "The Hat" Walker, Leo "The Lip" Durocher, Burt Shotten, Eddie "The Brat" Stanky, Dick Young of the New York Daily News, and others in this historic story. Baseball rosters were heavily made up of players from the south. The Dodgers were no exception, and they brought their long held prejudices along with them. You may think you have heard all the anecdotes relating to Robinson and the Dodgers, but the gifted author of this book will provide you with nuggets of information culled from a variety of sources. Years after the fact, several former Dodger players said Robinson "made them better men." However, the author notes, these claims were made only after supporting civil rights became fashionable. In 1947, when Robinson needed these friends, he found none on the Dodgers. At least significant ones! Reese developed a genuine friendship with Robinson, but in 1947 Pee Wee was one of the boys and whether the often told incident of him supporting Robinson in Cincinnati when he was being heckled is open to question. At least for 1947. This is quite simply one of the very best of hundreds of baseball books that I have read. It is definitely a keeper for anyone's library. It's a great story, especially with the 60th anniversary rapidly approaching. I can't wait to see what this new author, Jonathan Eig, is preparing for us to read next.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rick Shaq Goldstein on June 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am a born and raised Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodger fan. In fact my family moved from New York to Los Angeles the same year as the Dodgers. Before my brothers and I were born, my parents went to Ebbets field every weekend. I still have a box full of Brooklyn scorecards from those days. I was too young to see Jackie in his prime, but my Dad took me to some games in 1956 and I got to see Jackie and all the "Boys Of Summer"! I was a Brooklyn Dodger fanatic even at that age. Besides watching the Dodgers, I read everything available on them, and still do, 50 years later. I can unabashedly say I love Jackie Robinson. One of my many fond memories of my Dad, was him talking to me in front of our tiny black and white TV watching the Dodgers. He said "I have gone to hundreds of baseball games, and have seen 1,000 players, and the most exciting player I ever saw was Jackie Robinson!" "What Jackie did, was not displayed only in the statistics. Over the history of baseball, many players stole more bases. (Such as Ricky Henderson stealing bases with a 7 run lead in the 8th inning.) But no one unnerved every player on the team just by leading off the base and dancing on his pigeon toes, like Jackie. This book points out little, subtle, beneficial affects, on the whole Dodger team, that the average fan wouldn't see. The pitcher and catcher would be so nervous with Jackie dancing around on the base paths, that they would be afraid to throw curve balls, so the batters got better pitches to hit. Jackie stole home more times, than just about anyone except Ty Cobb. When we moved to Los Angeles there was a program on called the "Million Dollar Theatre", in which they showed the same movie on TV every day for a week. When the "Jackie Robinson Story" was on, I watched it every night, and literally memorized the dialogue.Read more ›
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schleifer on March 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished Jonathan Eig's book "Opening Day", and loved it. Like his earlier work "Luckiest Man", Eig sticks to facts and historical sources (interviews [old and new], newspaper sources) and is able to separate some of the myths surrounding Jackie Robinson and the 1947 season from the truth. For example, the story about Pee Wee Reese draping his arm around Robinson's shoulder in Cincinnati in 1947. Great story, but not much fact supporting whether it happened. Eig reports the known sources and lets the reader decide whether to believe the facts or the myth (in this case, I like the myth!).

This is the first book that I know of that chronicles the 1947 season (w/some "flashbacks", which are necessary to understand some of the people and the culture and thought of the time). Eig's writing style keeps the reader interested, as Robinson joins the Dodgers after a year with the minor league Montreal Royals, proceeds to take the field and ultimately become Major League Rookie of the Year - there was only one for both leagues at the time. Interviews with Rachel Robinson, Jackie's wife, show both the courage Robinson shows, as well as the emotional turmoil, as Robinson had promised Branch Rickey that he would not fight his tormentors.

As the season progresses, Eig does a great job of how Robinson's Dodger teammates loosen up to him, believing that his playing as a ballplayer is more important than skin color. By the end of the season, Ralph Branca is catching Robinson who is diving for a foul ball, something that might not have happened earlier in the year. There's a great scene where Dixie Walker, possibly unfairly maligned as an instigator of a potential major league strike against Robinson, calls Robinson aside to give him batting tips.
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Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season
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