Thursday, July 15, 2021

Review of "Stealing Home: The Story of Jackie Robinson," by Barry Denenberg


Review of

Stealing Home: The Story of Jackie Robinson, by Barry Denenberg ISBN 0590425609

Five out of five stars

A successful struggle for equal opportunity

 While the United States now has a federal holiday celebrating the life and achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he is arguably not the most important person in the civil rights movement in the U. S. There are many reasons to believe that the key role was played by Jackie Robinson.

 When he was signed and developed by Branch Rickey, there was a lot of opposition to the black Robinson playing in major league baseball. Ironically, some of the opposition was not racial, but economic. The owners of the stadiums where major league teams played believed that the Negro leagues would fold if black players were allowed in the major leagues. Those owners made a great deal of money leasing the stadiums for Negro league games. Even the owners of the teams in the Negro League were concerned, they (correctly) thought that black players in the major leagues would doom the Negro Leagues. There was also the fact that if blacks were allowed in the major leagues, many white players would lose their jobs. After all, it was no secret that many of the players in the Negro Leagues were superior to most white players.

 This book describes all of these economic issues without sacrificing coverage of the explicit and implicit racism within and surrounding baseball that Jackie had to overcome. Unlike others, Jackie had to simply endure all the verbal and occasional physical abuse. Once he proved to be successful, other teams were generally quick to sign and play black players. Had Robinson not prevailed, it is hard to see how the opportunities for other blacks to enter the major leagues would have opened up.

 Written at the YA level, all sides of the issue of Jackie Robinson’s entry into the major leagues are covered. In the end, not only did Jackie Robinson succeed on the field, but the owners also discovered that his presence did a great deal to improve their receipts at the box office.

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