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Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season Paperback – April 1, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
This book was interesting to me as compared to many others, because it not
only zoomed in on his first year as a player, but also went deeper into
his personal life during that first year. All the way to the size of a little room he and Rachel rented, along with their infant son. If you were to ask me, what, with all my knowledge, I have on Jackie's playing, was the biggest thing I learned from this book, I would say his affect, and dominance, in every facet of the game, that didn't appear in his batting average, in a losing cause as a rookie in the 1947 World Series against the hated and despised Yankees. This is a great book and I recommend it to everyone. P.S. In my opinion Jackie was the greatest all around athlete since Jim Thorpe. A lot of people forget that Jackie was the first 4-sport letterman at UCLA. He was an All American football player, the top scorer on UCLA's basketball team, a record setter in the long jump, and of course baseball, which was actually his weakest sport at that time. Duke Snider tells a story about when Duke was in high school in Compton California, and Jackie was playing for Pasadena City College (A junior college). Duke went to see Jackie play a baseball game. One inning Jackie hit a homerun, and then in his full baseball uniform, with spikes on, ran over to the track field between innings, won the broad jump, and ran back to the baseball field in time to play the next inning!
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. Rachel Robinson is even invited to hang with the other players' wives.
All in all, an awesome book. The cliches are true, as this is a book about courage and facing adversity, but it is also a plain old good baseball book, chronicling a very important moment and year in history, not just baseball history. I heartily recommend this book, as well as Eig's first book "Luckiest Man".