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An Integrated Life
J. Christopher Schutz -
Series edited by
John David Smith
Jackie Robinson’s story is not only a compelling drama of heroism, but also as a template of the African American freedom struggle. A towering athletic talent, Robinson’s greater impact was on preparing the way for the civil rights reform wave following WWII. But Robinson’s story has always been far more complex than the public perception has allowed. Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey famously told the young Robinson that he was “looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back.” J. Christopher Schutz reveals the real Robinson, as a more defiant, combative spirit than simply the “turn the other cheek” compliant “credit to his race.” The triumph of Robinson’s inclusion in the white Major Leagues (which presaged blacks’ later inclusion in the broader society) also included the slow demise of black-owned commercial enterprise in the Negro Leagues (which likewise presaged the unrecoverable loss of other important black institutions after civil rights gains). Examining this key figure at the crossroads of baseball and civil rights histories, Schutz provides a cohesive exploration of the man and the times that made him great.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Size: 6 3/8 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-4596-9 • Hardback • May 2016 •
978-1-4422-4597-6 • eBook • May 2016 •
Library of African American Biography
Biography & Autobiography / Sports
History / United States / 20th Century
Sports & Recreation / Baseball / History
History / African American
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J. Christopher Schutz is associate professor of history at Tennessee Wesleyan College, where he specializes is the Civil Rights Movement and social and cultural history of the 1960s and 1970s.
Chapter 1. Before the Legend: The Young Robinson
Chapter 2. Freedom Fighter
Chapter 3. The World of Black Baseball
Chapter 4. “A Badge of Martyrdom”: Robinson’s Entry into White Baseball
Chapter 5. The Great Experiment: Robinson Ascends to the Major Leagues
Chapter 6. “To Be Jackie Robinson”: His Further Years in the Major, 1949-1956
Chapter 7. Robinson Off the Diamond
Chapter 8. Early Sunset on a Legend
About the Author
Schutz, an associate professor of history at Tennessee Wesleyan College, portrays baseball legend Jackie Robinson as a 'compliant warrior,' a revamped version of a man whose temperament could sometimes make him 'prickly and difficult.' Those traits surfaced in his California youth in a gang and in the military, where he faced a court-martial for attacking a bigoted white officer. Robinson, determined to become a major league ball player despite segregation, joined the powerhouse Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro League in 1945. His play as an infielder led Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Dickey to boldly select Robinson for the pioneering slot in the all-white major league. From the start of his time in the big show, Robinson confronted envy, jealousy, and hate from opposing players, teammates, and fans, yet he overcame it all with grit and determination. Schutz skillfully in depicting the totality of the star’s personality on and off the field, without any sugar-coating or hype.
This work takes a different look at one of the most discussed and analyzed players in baseball history. It’s easy to accept the traditional narrative of who Jackie Robinson (1919–72) was and how he impacted baseball in the United States. However, these mainstream notions aren’t always accurate. Robinson may not have retaliated to the onslaught of negativity he experienced being the first African American major league ballplayer, but he was a determined and combative man who rebelled and fought against racial injustice throughout his life. Debut author Schutz (history, Tennessee Wesleyan Coll.) uses interviews and other sources to contrast the complex reality of who Robinson was with how he is traditionally depicted. Another interesting angle illustrates how Robinson’s career and life both influenced and were influenced by the events and social context of the times. VERDICT Baseball fans and those interested in the civil rights movement will enjoy this book.
Jackie Robinson appears as a committed, ambitious, sometimes difficult young man able to grapple with apartheid in the US, retain his considerable dignity, excel both on and off the baseball diamond, and pay a large price in terms of inordinate stress and the far too early breaking down of his once magnificent body. Historian Schutz sketches Robinson’s progression from juvenile delinquency to stardom at UCLA (not USC) before he battled against Jim Crow military practices and a racist-spawned court-martial. After a brief stint with the Negro Leagues’ Kansas City Monarchs, Robinson was signed by Branch Rickey to become the first black ballplayer in organized baseball during the 20th century. Baseball’s great experiment succeeded in large part because of Robinson’s exceptional play and his ability to confront stark racism as a member of Brooklyn’s famed boys of summer. Schutz nicely covers Robinson's postbaseball years, when he stood out as a racial spokesperson notwithstanding disappointments involving major political party figures and brickbats from black power advocates. Despite contending with horrific personal tragedy, Robinson became a hero for figures ranging from Martin Luther King Jr. to the white, southern-born sportswriter Red Smith.
Recommended. All levels/libraries.
Another perspective on the groundbreaking life of Jackie Robinson. We are all familiar with the story, but instead of taking it from a baseball point of view, it shows the results from a social impact perspective. It puts a different spin on the whole Jackie Robinson story and adds new insights to the entire story. Jackie Robinson’s admirable legacy is about so much more than just baseball, and this is only one of the many different angles.
Gregg's Baseball Bookcase
"For someone whose story has been told countless times, it is remarkable how little we know about the actual Jackie Robinson: the person who saw himself as a servant to the Black Freedom Struggle and, as he said, 'to the mass.' Christopher Schutz fills this gap in a manner that is utterly indispensable. It is a must read for people who like their history whole."
Dave Zirin, sports editor of The Nation and author of A People’s History of Sports in the United States
"Christopher Schutz provides a provocative and highly nuanced study of Jackie Robinson and the integration of Major League Baseball. Instead of portraying Robinson as someone who acquiesced to those in power in baseball and the larger American society, Schutz convincingly argues that the great athlete from UCLA by way of Cairo, Georgia and Pasadena, California, was a proud black man who through sheer determination and unyielding combativeness was able to achieve success before, during, and after his career in America's national pastime. In the process of telling the Robinson story, Schutz provides important insights into the business of baseball and the complex and ever changing interconnection among race, sport, and American culture."
David K. Wiggins, George Mason University
• Commended, Sports Collectors Digest Best Baseball Books of 2016 (Honorable Mention)
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