Rickey & Robinson: The Preacher, the Player, and America's Game

Rickey & Robinson: The Preacher, the Player, and America's Game

Rickey & Robinson: The Preacher, the Player, and America's Game

Rickey & Robinson: The Preacher, the Player, and America's Game


On August 28, 1945, a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team escorted an intriguing, if not exactly youthful, prospect into the intriguing, if not exactly welcoming, office of a veteran baseball man who had already revolutionized the sport at least once. Jackie Robinson meet Branch Rickey.

What actually happened in that cluttered room over the course of the next few hours will never be known for certain, but without a doubt this meeting set in motion changes in major league baseball and in the nation that would echo long after the postwar became the Cold War.

Though baseball necessarily lies at the heart of this fascinating dual biography, the stories of these two remarkable men touch many of the most important issues and changes in American life from 1895-1970-the transition from rural to urban America, two World Wars and the war in Vietnam, the Red Scare, the evolution of mass media, and, of course, the Civil Rights movement-their lives spanning most of the century that they helped to shape. Alone, each story is a good one. Combined-and they can hardly be separated-the Rickey-Robinson story becomes compelling, even mythical.

For those readers not particularly interested in baseball, Rickey and Robinson will surely help them appreciate the game's place in American history. At the same time, those who do not have to be persuaded that baseball truly is America's game will treasure this remarkable work. This unique book is certain to make informative and entertaining reading for a variety of courses in sport history, recent America, popular culture, and the U.S. survey.


Permit me to begin with an observation and an admission. Under the best of circumstances, objectivity in historical writing is an elusive, if admirable, goal. These are not the best of circumstances. You see, I was once a Dodger fan. More accurately, I was once a Brooklyn Dodger fan. My earliest memory of life as such has me lying next to an imposing piece of living-room furniture (the family console radio) listening to a Dodger-Yankee World Series game. the year must have been 1952 or 1953, but I know for certain that it wasn’t 1955. That DodgerYankee World Series I remember distinctly, and not just because my family had acquired a television set by then.

School day or no, I was home for the deciding seventh game of the memorable Fall Classic. But tv set or no, I couldn’t bear to watch much of it, convinced as I was of the inevitability of yet another Dodger defeat at the hands of the hated Yankees. Instead, much to my surprise (not to mention that of the Dodgers and especially that of the Yankees) “next year” finally arrived courtesy of a 2-0 Dodger victory.

Not long after that the Dodgers left Brooklyn and the Washington Senators landed in Minnesota. the transfer of my baseball loyalties was not instant, but by 1965 it was pretty much complete. That, of course, was the year of the only Twins-Dodgers World Series. This time Game Seven was a thoroughly different experience for this novice Twins fan. For one thing, I watched the entire game. For another, my team lost.

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