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:
- I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson, by Robinson, with Duckett, 1972
- Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball, Simon, 2002
- Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy, Tygiel, 1983
- Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season, by Eig, 2007
- Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson, by Sharon Robinson (daughter), 2009 (juvenile)
- Jackie’s Nine: Jackie Robinson’s Values to Live By, by Sharon Robinson, 2002 (juvenile)
- Jackie Robinson: A Biography, by Rampersad, 1997
- Jackie Robinson and the American Dilemma (Library of American Biography), by Wilson, 2009
- Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers, by Shapiro, 1957
- The Jackie Robinson Story, The Big League Baseball Library, by Mann, 1951
- Jackie Robinson: My Own Story, by Robinson, 1949
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.