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Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season Paperback – April 1, 2008
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About the Author
Jonathan Eig is a former senior special writer for The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including two highly acclaimed bestsellers, Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig and Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season. Visit him at JonathanEig.com.
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The road was definitely not easy for Jackie. On the field he was taunted, teased, and provoked all season long. Off the field he rarely could sleep in the same hotel or eat in the same restaurant as his teammates, typically he would be forced to the segregated parts of the community during road trips. Yet despite the challenges from inside and out, Jackie Robinson was a force to be reckoned with. He accepted the challenge to not only be a role model to African-Americans, but also an incredible ball player.
Easily the MVP of his team, Jackie led a mediocre Brooklyn Dodger ball club to the World Series. Unfortunately, Jackie's historical first year ended with the much hated Yankees winning it all. Nevertheless, 1947 would go down in history as one of the most influential years in professional sports.
Jackie Robinson is a legend. He was given a seemingly impossible task and he succeeded unbelievably. Jackie Robinson was a humble man with a strong competitive spirit. His passion to win made him a great ball player, but his passion for equality and justice made him a great man.
Opening Day is not just about Jackie Robinson and his journey through his inaugural season, it is about America in 1947. Jackie's presence changed the nation: professional sports, politics, business, black culture, white culture, newsprint, entertainment, etc. For the first time, all Americans were forced to examine their prejudices. If you are a student of baseball history or American history or the civil rights movement, this book gives the reader a wonderful, unbiased snapshot of the world during the 1947 baseball season.
Eig details how teammates and opponents treated Robinson. Many of his teammates were aloof, at best. Many were Southerns who didn't care for him. The role Dixie Walker played in supposedly circulating a petition protesting Robinson's addition to the Dodgers is covered.
Eig recounts each series of the 1947, detailing how opponents treated Robinson, how he performed on the field, and how he had to room with black families when he was on the road. It's interesting to see how some things changed as the season progressed.
This book is essential for any fan who wants to know more about Jackie Robinson and the 1947 season. It will increase whatever admiration you have for Robinson.
In his second book, Eig does a great job combining primary sources and oral histories while also presenting his own interpretations of events. Eig also does good work examining apocryphal stories, like Pee Wee Reese putting his arm around Robinson in Cincinnati during the 1947 season, pouring through game stories not only to find out that there wasn't any coverage of the event in 1947, but also to provide an alternate idea of when this story actually took place.
By not only examining the events on the baseball diamond, but also the stories of people living at the time and how the integration of Major League Baseball affected people, Eig is expanding the story of the 1947 season beyond just Jackie Robinson. And by looking at the 1947 season through the point of view of people ranging from Mike Royko to Malcolm X, the readers are truly able to understand the effect of Robinson on all of society, instead of just focusing on his impact on baseball.