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Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season

by Jonathan Eig

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237687,357 (3.82)6
World War II had just ended. Democracy had triumphed. Now Americans were beginning to press for justice on the home front--and Jackie Robinson had a chance to lead the way. He was an unlikely hero. He had little experience in organized baseball, his swing was far from graceful, and he was assigned to play a position he had never tried before. But the biggest concern was his temper--Robinson was an angry man who played aggressively. In order to succeed he would have to control himself in the face of what promised to be a brutal assault by opponents of integration. Drawing on interviews with surviving players, sportswriters, and eyewitnesses, as well as newly discovered material from archives around the country, Jonathan Eig presents a fresh portrait of a ferocious competitor who embodied integration's promise and helped launch the modern civil-rights era.--From publisher description.… (more)
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Relates the story of Jackie Robinson, focusing on his first year in the Major Leagues. An easy enough to read narrative which brought out many previously unknown (to me anyway) facts and facets of this time period, the experiences of African Americans, and the character of Jackie Robinson. I would say it's a solid read for anyone interested in history or sports, though for me it was not outstanding. ( )
  debs4jc | Mar 24, 2019 |
After watching the film "42" I felt the need to refresh my knowledge about Jackie Robinson and his first season. Eig relies primarily on contemporary sources from 1947 and 1948. He could have taken a debunking approach, but instead he explains the reality, and occasional lack of substance, behind the legends we believe. Which takes nothing at all away from Robinson as a ball player, as a man and as a leader. A very enjoyable book. ( )
  nmele | Jul 17, 2013 |
The title of this book is wonderfully accurate. It really is the story of the entire season, and not just the baseball parts (although baseball fans won't be disappointed in the description of plays and pitches). But it is much more than a play-by-play of every game the Dodgers played in 1947; Eig paints a picture of the entire season and how it resonated throughout the country.

Eig's writing is so vivid, you can feel the emotion as Jackie walks into the clubhouse for the first time, as he takes the plate for the first time, as he faces both cruelty and kindness in cities and ballparks across the Major Leagues. He gives us profiles of people who were affected by Robinson's barrier-breaking, including author Robert B. Parker, civil rights leader Malcolm X, and future governor of Virginia Douglas Wilder. Although some of these profiles go on a bit too long, they contribute a lot to the sense of change that was in atmosphere in 1947.

Eig doesn't exactly soft-pedal the negative reactions from both within and without baseball that arose as a result of integration, but in some ways, he down-plays it a little bit. Some of Jackie's fellow Dodgers were opposed on principle to playing with a black man, but when he joined the team, they realized he was an ok guy and that integration probably wouldn't actually bring about the end of civilization as we know it. Somehow I don't think it was that easy. ( )
1 vote mzonderm | Jul 14, 2013 |
I liked this a lot. Really puts Robinson's historic season in context. ( )
  lateinnings | May 20, 2010 |
This story about Jackie Robinson's inspirational first season was interesting, but ultimately struck me as rather dully written. It hopped about in time chronologically in ways that detracted from the flow, and ultimately left me feeling a bit let down. ( )
  Stensvaag | Jan 1, 2008 |
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World War II had just ended. Democracy had triumphed. Now Americans were beginning to press for justice on the home front--and Jackie Robinson had a chance to lead the way. He was an unlikely hero. He had little experience in organized baseball, his swing was far from graceful, and he was assigned to play a position he had never tried before. But the biggest concern was his temper--Robinson was an angry man who played aggressively. In order to succeed he would have to control himself in the face of what promised to be a brutal assault by opponents of integration. Drawing on interviews with surviving players, sportswriters, and eyewitnesses, as well as newly discovered material from archives around the country, Jonathan Eig presents a fresh portrait of a ferocious competitor who embodied integration's promise and helped launch the modern civil-rights era.--From publisher description.

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