As the first African American player in major league base-ball, Jackie Robinson had the eyes of the nation upon him. The pressure was incredible; not only did he constantly face prejudice—from ignorant fans, malicious players, and even bigoted sportswriters—but he also carried the hopes and expectations of all those who were rooting for him. Most mortals would have been crushed, but Jackie Robinson was no ordinary man. Maintaining both his dignity and calm while under attack, Robinson handled the stress heroically and delivered top-notch performance. His first year he batted .297, was chosen to be Rookie of the Year, and two years later, he was voted the league’s MVP.
Not surprisingly, there has been plenty of media coverage on such an iconic and groundbreaking player, but in Jackie Robinson: My Own Story, Robinson’s experiences both on and off the field are presented in his own words. This account (as told to the veteran sports writer Wendell Smith) was written soon after Robinson’s first year in the majors. It helps us understand the forces that influenced this much admired superstar as well as gives us insight into what it was like to live and perform under unfathomable pressure.
Jackie Robinson has left an indelible mark on baseball history. In fact, his jersey, number 42, is the only number to be retired for all teams in the majors. For any baseball fan interested in one of the game’s true greats, both on the field and off, Jackie Robinson: My Own Story is an engaging must-read.