Literary birthday greetings: Jackie Robinson

January 31, 2012

Robinson was born this date in 1919, which means he would have been 93 today. Sadly, he passed away almost 40 years ago, way too young.

It isn’t necessary to repeat all the sacrifices he made, all the doors he opened. One would hope everyone in this country — baseball fan or not — would be aware of his importance not just to the game, but, more importantly, to the history of our nation.

Like Babe Ruth, Robinson is the subject of books spanning numerous genres: baseball, juvenile, black history, American history, sociology, pop culture, and probably a few others I haven’t thought of. Several of these books were released to coincide with various anniversaries, primarily Robinson’s debut,at 25, 50, and 60 years.

Two new titles — one for kids, one for adults — come out this year discussing the relationship between Robinson and Jewish Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg. Previous books include:

Robinson appeared as himself in The Jackie Robinson Story, a 1950 bio pic that was short on production values but long on heroism. You can actually watch the whole thing on YouTube:

Ruby Dee played the role of Rachel Robinson. Interestingly enough, she played Robinson’s mother in the 1990 made-for-television movie, The Court Martial of Jackie Robinson, starring one of my favorite actors of all time, Andre Braugher. Here’s the trailer, with a sufficiently stentorian voice-over indicating the gravitas of the subject matter.

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