Jackie Robinson and the American Dilemma (Library of American Biography)
1 A National Game Emerges The Search for Markets and the Dilemmas of Inclusion . African American players before Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson. The story of Jackie Robinson has become one of America's most iconic and . In the biography Jackie Robinson and the American Dilemma by John R. M. Jackie Robinson and the American Dilemma (Library of American Biography) View larger cover Published Date: Jan 14, About this title; Related.
This collection, gathered from publications as diverse as Sport magazine and Reviews in American History, is divided into three sections: Jackie Robinson, baseball history, and the significance of race in baseball. Among the highlights are a review of Robinson's tumultuous military career, an examination of the game during the Jim Crow era of racial discrimination, and a critique of Ken Burns' hour documentary Baseball.
As one might expect, Tygiel admires Burns' overall effort but points out some significant historical inaccuracies. There is also a fascinating article examining the relatively recent phenomenon of televised sport and how it has altered our perceptions, to say nothing of the wealth it has created for participants.
A worthwhile addition to those collections where interest in baseball and sports history is high. Those who enjoyed Tygiel's Baseball's Great Experiment: Baseball as History, which use baseball as a barometer for American history and society, will enjoy this gathering of his previously published essays.
The age spread of the essays, however, works against them, as some are as recent as but many date from the s. Baseball History in the s" is a serviceable introduction to baseball historiography, but it was written as a journal article in Tygiel's primary source material for Hank Aaron does not include Aaron's excellent autobiography, I Had a Hammer, because it was not written until Some of the essays in the review copy had end notes, and some did not.
Tygiel's closing essay, an analysis of what is wrong with the current state of the game, will leave casual fans thinking that Bob Costas said it better. Still, the essays about Jackie Robinson and Jim Crow baseball, Tygiel's specialities, are small gems that are worth the price of this relatively inexpensive paperback. Recommended for public and academic libraries with large baseball collections. Jackie Robinson was born in and died in He crammed into these brief fifty-three years a legacy of accomplishment, acclaim, controversy, and influence matched by few Americans.
He was, even before his historic baseball breakthrough, an athlete of legendary proportions.
He won fame and adulation as the first African-American to play in the major leagues in the twentieth century, launching an athletic revolution that transformed American sports. He garnered baseball's highest honors: More significantly, Robinson became a symbol of racial integration and a prominent leader in the civil rights struggle of the s and s. Yet Jackie Robinson's half century among us illuminates not just the contours of an exceptional life, but much about the broader African-American experience of those years.
Jackie Robinson was born in Georgia in the heart of the segregated South, the grandson of a slave and the son of sharecrop farmers. While Jackie was still an infant, his father, Jerry Robinson, abandoned the family.
Jackie Robinson and the American dilemma
His mother, Mallie, seeking a better life for Jackie and his four older siblings, joined the post-World War "great migration" of African Americans out of the South.
Most blacks traveled to the eastern metropolises: Mallie Robinson, on the advice of a brother, headed west to California.
African Americans were relatively rare in California in the s. Although Mexican-born blacks had figured prominently in the early settlement of the region, by the early twentieth century blacks accounted for only 1 percent of the state's population.
Those who lived there confronted a pattern of discrimination common to the American West. Although few laws addressed the issue of black-white relations, widely established and accepted practices defined the limits of tolerance. Few hotels, restaurants, or recreational facilities accepted African Americans. Restrictive covenants and other less formal practices barred blacks from living in most neighborhoods.
Job discrimination impeded economic advancement. African Americans met hostility at almost every turn from strangers, neighbors, and police. Thus Jackie Robinson grew up in an environment quite similar to that of other children of the great migration. Raised in a family without a father and sustained by their mother's income from domestic work-the most commonly available job for an African-American woman-the Robinsons lived in poverty, held together by their mother's indomitable spirit and strong sense of Methodist moralism.
As a teenager in Pasadena, Robinson ran with local street gangs and experienced inevitable confrontations with the easily provoked local police, resulting in at least one arrest.
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However, if southern California offered a harsh existence, it also proffered opportunities unavailable in most other locales. The absence of tenements and the predominance of single-family houses allowed Mallie Robinson to buy a home for her family.
The lack of restrictions on black athletic participation opened an avenue of success to her sons. Robinson's years at UCLA introduced him to high-level interracial competition.
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Robinson's childhood friend, Ray Bartlett, was the fourth black starter on the football team. While most black athletes of the era played for Negro colleges or in Negro Leagues and on down teams like the Harlem Globetrotters, Robinson achieved his initial stardom on integrated playing fields.
Rachel, a freshman, was five years younger than Jackie, and came from a more secure black middle-class background. She was a third-generation Californian, a rare status among African Americans, had earned an academic scholarship to UCLA, and maintained a straight A average.
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Rachel's calm, warm, thoughtful manner complemented Jackie's fiery impetuousness. They formed an enduring bond of mutual love and support that would gird them through the challenging years ahead.
Robinson's army career typified the African-American military experience. Drafted in April and assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas, Robinson ran an endless gauntlet of racial discrimination. He was barred from Officers' Candidate School, blocked from playing on the camp baseball team, and restricted to segregated facilities.
Robinson, however, applied both his aggressiveness and celebrity to demand better treatment. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and waged a campaign to improve conditions for black soldiers at Fort Riley. After his transfer to Fort Hood in Texas, Robinson refused to move to the back of a military bus and defied the officers who attempted to discipline him, resulting in a court-martial that might have led to dishonorable discharge.
A military tribunal acquitted Robinson of all charges, but the episode nonetheless left its mark and intensified Robinson's commitment to racial justice. Upon his release from the army, Robinson faced a familiar dilemma for African Americans. Although at the peak of his athletic talents and good enough to star in any of the major American team sports, Robinson, like his brother Mack, and Kenny Washington before him, had few professional options.
Neither organized baseball, the National Football League, nor most major basketball teams accepted black players. Robinson's best alternative was to cast his lot with baseball's Negro Leagues, and in the spring of he signed with the Kansas City Monarchs.
There can be little doubt that, at their best, the Negro Leagues played a high level of baseball, featuring some of the game's greatest stars. For Robinson, however, the Negro Leagues proved a distasteful experience. Accustomed to the highly structured training and scheduling of major college sports and hostile to all forms of segregation, Robinson considered the Negro Leagues a step down rather than a leg up.
The long, hot bus rides through the South, the degrading treatment at gas stations and other white-owned facilities, and the players' own informal approach to most nonleague contests frustrated Robinson.
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It appears that sometime in the early s both Leagues required both contract copies to be approved by the respective offices of the Presidents, but in and throughout the s the evidence shows this was not the case.
The earliest contract retained by Robinson and his widow is his contract which was sold by Rachel Robinson at Lelands. In our last report we asked HOS readers to contact us with any information they might have related to the alleged thefts from the Dodgers franchise and several did. Wes Parker was the person most responsible for their theft. Examples of documents suspected to have been stolen from the Dodger team archive and sold at public auction.
Included are a rare letter from Roy Campanella and several player contracts for Brooklyn and Montreal. I got some pictures and original paintings of me that were used for memorabilia sold at the Union 76 gas stations. The claims of thefts from Dodger Stadium and the accusations leveled by our sources against Parker, in addition to the unverified provenance and evidence of Dodger ownership, make the current sale tonight of the historic Robinson contracts by Goldin even more problematic.
Regardless of how the Dodger documents were removed from the team facility, the evidence still shows that the Robinson contracts appear to be Dodger property. In addition, whoever did remove the documents would likely never be prosecuted based on the statute of limitations. There is, however, precedent for MLB to intercede and stop the sale of its official documents as sources indicate lawyers for Baseball stopped the sale of the manuscript of the National League Constitution at SCP Auctions last year.
Hauls of Shame reached out to Ken Goldin for comment but the auctioneer did not respond to our inquiry.