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I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of…
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I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson

by Jackie Robinson

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This was a book I’d never heard of but was glad to have read. I think that is because of its content which is mostly non-baseball related.
This edition has good introductions from Hank Aaron and Cornel West who are both outspoken personalities about race relations as they pertain to black Americans.
This is actually one of the best books I’ve ever read. Not for any heights and depths of wisdom but because Robinson and his ghost writer are so honest and direct about expressing his opinion. Robinson tells you exactly what his position is without too much qualification. I respect and appreciate someone who writes that way.
Robinson wasn’t born in Los Angeles but he was raised in Pasadena. His father abandoned the family at a young age. He went to Muir High School, Pasadena City College then on to UCLA where he was the first four sport letterman. He faced discrimination in the US Army as an officer and again when he tried to play baseball in the Negro league. The then Dodger Owner Branch Rickey decided to change baseball by bringing in Robinson to abolish the exclusion of black players from Major League Baseball. Robinson and Vin Scully were both part of the Dodger organization when the team moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, New York with Walter O’Malley. Strangely, Robinson never mentions Scully in the book. I remember growing up listening to Scully and always hearing how great Robinson was from Scully. Robinson was also the first black player to be induction into the MLB Hall of Fame.
This book reveals how JF Kennedy wanted Robinson to endorse his 1960 presidential campaign but Robinson declined and supported Nixon. Afterwards Robinson concluded that Nixon had no intention of supporting black causes and never supported him again. Robinson did like conservative Nelson Rockefeller till Robinson’s final days. The book also covers his disagreements with Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. Lastly the book covers the drug recovery of his son Jackie Jr after he left the Army and serving in combat in Vietnam.
This isn’t a high-minded book trying to cover the importance of Robinson’s every word and action. This is an honest man trying to be true to himself and the other black Americans who needed someone to champion their interests in the wider American and sometimes unfair society.
You may have never heard of this book, but if you see it, you will learn a few inspiring things about he and his wife.
The Dodgers won one World Series with Jackie and even in one of the ones they lost to the New York Yankees Jackie was known for sealing home base to the eternal frustration of Yogi Berra who would forever claim that he was tagged out. Jackie did not like Walter Alston (the later long time Dodger manager) nor Walter O’Malley (owner). I did not know this before reading the book.
Robinson said that there should be black Americans in both Democrat and Republican parties to insure that blacks were included in all governmental legislation to improve the lives of all. This was an unusual philosophical position to take, even more so now. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Aug 28, 2017 |
"I Never Had It Made" is one of those "as told to" books in which another writer does the grunt work of actually getting the author's words onto a piece of paper in publishable form (in this case that man was Alfred Duckett). Despite this, one comes away from this combination autobiography/political screed with a sense that these are largely Jackie Robinson's words, that the book is very personal to Robinson and that this is precisely the way the man expressed himself in his day (this book was published in 1972).

Baseball fans (by far, the primary audience for this book today)will be disappointed to find that only about one-third of the book is devoted to Robinson's baseball career And even that portion of the book, as it probably should, spends much more time on the racial aspect of Robinson breaking the baseball color barrier than it spends on his career itself.

Jackie Robinson was a very proud black man, a man comfortable with his race and determined to get a fair shake from the white-dominated world in which he lived. He was also, at the end, a very bitter man because as it became more and more obvious that the civil rights games he longed for were not likely to be accomplished in his own lifetime. All of that comes across very strongly in the remaining two-thirds of the book, and considering the progress made after Robinson's death it, at times, makes for sad and tedious reading.

"I Never Had It Made" is a reflection of its times and the personal struggles that Robinson (and his fellow blacks) went through during those years. It is worth a read - but it is not about baseball. It is about the civil rights struggle in this country during the first six or seven decades of the twentieth century. ( )
  SamSattler | Aug 23, 2014 |
Wonderful read whether you're an avid baseball fan or (like me) completely uneducated on the baseball world. Jackie Robinson's voice comes through loud and clear in a tone of humility, pride, and dedication. Robinson was a hero in so many ways and affected the history of the US in more ways than I ever imagined. ( )
  Clare.Davitt | Aug 5, 2013 |
Interesting to hear Jackie's voice, but sadly disappointing in overall tone. The book is mostly about Robinson's racial struggles, rather than the major events and achievements of his life. The book is overwhelmingly bitter with few rests for positive moments along the way. His baseball career and achievements fly by with greater emphasis on later years and racial struggles. We're talking two pages about the '55 World Series. TWO PAGES! It's worth stepping into Jackie's shoes, but be prepared once you're in them. ( )
  supermanboidy | May 22, 2010 |
I love Jackie Robinson, and learning his struggles straight from him was an eye opening experience. ( )
  laurab_53 | Aug 9, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060555971, Paperback)

Before Barry Bonds, before Reggie Jackson, before Hank Aaron, baseball's stars had one undeniable trait in common: they were all white. In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke that barrier, striking a crucial blow for racial equality and changing the world of sports forever. I Never Had It Made is Robinson's own candid, hard-hitting account of what it took to become the first black man in history to play in the major leagues.

I Never Had It Made recalls Robinson's early years and influences: his time at UCLA, where he became the school's first four-letter athlete; his army stint during World War II, when he challenged Jim Crow laws and narrowly escaped court martial; his years of frustration, on and off the field, with the Negro Leagues; and finally that fateful day when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers proposed what became known as the "Noble Experiment" -- Robinson would step up to bat to integrate and revolutionize baseball.

More than a baseball story, I Never Had It Made also reveals the highs and lows of Robinson's life after baseball. He recounts his political aspirations and civil rights activism; his friendships with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, William Buckley, Jr., and Nelson Rockefeller; and his troubled relationship with his son, Jackie, Jr.

Originally published the year Robinson died, I Never Had It Made endures as an inspiring story of a man whose heroism extended well beyond the playing field.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:32 -0400)

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Autobiography of an African American who broke the color barrier in major league baseball and devoted his life to achieving justice.

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