Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson's First Spring Training

Article excerpt

Chris Lamb. Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson's First Spring Training. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. 226 pp. Cloth, $24.95.

According to Jules Tygiel, "The Jackie Robinson story is to Americans what the Passover story is to Jews: it must be told to every generation so that we never forget." Chris Lamb's work is the latest iteration of Robinson's story and the process of reintegrating Major League Baseball. While Blackout does not contain that much more historical information about Robinson's struggles than Arnold Rampersad's Jackie Robinson or Tygiel's Baseball's Great Experiment, Lamb does provide illuminating historical context to the events he discusses.

For Lamb, "The story of Jackie Robinson's first spring training captures America as it moved, or staggered, toward its promise of equal rights for all" (7). Blackout includes all of the events baseball historians and enthusiasts expect from a Robinson story: Jackie and Rachel's turbulent journey to Florida; background information on Branch Rickey's process to sign Robinson; as well as the ways in which Jim Crow laws, and the people who upheld them, hindered the reintegration process. In addition to these events, Lamb discusses concurrent racial events, focusing specifically on lynching, race riots, and general racial unrest--all of which strengthen Lamb's claim that America staggered toward equality as opposed to willingly and purposefully moving toward it in a straight line.

In a far more innocuous fashion, Lamb's narrative does not flow in a straight line either. …