Read Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy by Jules Tygiel Online


In 1997 the American people will celebrate with great fanfare and publicity the fiftieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson's explosive entrance into major league baseball. Robinson has become a national icon, his name a virtual synonym for pathbreaker. Indeed, much has transpired between this young African-American's first bold strides around the baseball diamonds of a segregIn 1997 the American people will celebrate with great fanfare and publicity the fiftieth anniversary of Jackie Robinson's explosive entrance into major league baseball. Robinson has become a national icon, his name a virtual synonym for pathbreaker. Indeed, much has transpired between this young African-American's first bold strides around the baseball diamonds of a segregated America and General Manager Bob Watson's pride in assembling 1996 World Champion New York Yankees. Recognizing this monumental event in America's continuing struggle for integration, Jules Tygiel has expanded his highly acclaimed Baseball's Great Experiment. In a new afterword, he addresses the mythology surrounding Robinson's achievements, his overall effect on baseball and other sports, and the enduring legacy Robinson has left for African Americans and American society. In this gripping account of one of the most important steps in the history of American desegregation, Tygiel tells the story of Jackie Robinson's crossing of baseball's color line. Examining the social and historical context of Robinson's introduction into white organized baseball, both on and off the field, Tygiel also tells the often neglected stories of other African-American players--such as Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron--who helped transform our national pastime into an integrated game. Drawing on dozens of interviews with players and front office executives, contemporary newspaper accounts, and personal papers, Tygiel provides the most telling and insightful account of Jackie Robinson's influence on American baseball and society....

Title : Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy
Author :
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ISBN : 9780195106206
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 448 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy Reviews

  • Jacob
    2019-04-08 18:36

    Simply put: One of the five greatest baseball books I've ever read. The story of Jackie Robinson's signing and career with the Brooklyn Dodgers has been well documented, but not as well known are the many other black and Latino ballplayers who integrated minor leagues across the country for a decade after 1947, often by themselves in a harsh and defiant Southern culture with no preparation or support system. They were sent to Texas or Mississippi or Georgia to work their way up to the major leagues and faced the same prejudice and ill treatment as Jackie Robinson did, but without any of the fanfare. Tygiel thoroughly explains the changing climate in the U.S. during World War II that made it possible for baseball to first integrate in 1946-47, and then the fierce Southern backlash against the civil rights movement beginning with the Brown v. Board decision in 1954 which slowed integration at all levels of society. He also spends considerable time studying the collaborative partnership between Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey that made it all possible. This book will give you a new appreciation for Jackie Robinson, whose success absolutely did not seem inevitable at the time, but also for the many other people involved who fought for integration: such as sports writers Wendell Smith and Sam Lacy; major league pioneers such as Larry Doby, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Hank Thompson and Satchel Paige; the many long-forgotten minor league pioneers such as Roy Partlow and John Wright; and the "second wave" of stars that followed Jackie to the majors: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks and Frank Robinson, along with Elston Howard, Pumpsie Green and more. You cannot know the story of the civil rights movement without understanding baseball's role in it. The story is much more complex than Jackie Robinson, American hero. Though he was indeed that, he was also a courageous, proud, independent human being. This incredible book tells the full story of baseball integration, for better or worse, not just the feel-good fairy tale.

  • Jeff
    2019-03-29 01:35

    The definitive book on the story of Jackie Robinson's rise to the major leagues. Gives excellent background into the story of Branch Rickey and his desire to integrate baseball and of what Robinson and his family went through in 1946 & 47. The last third of the book talks about the integration of other major league teams from 1947-59. Not quite as compelling as Robinson's story. Tygiel does a good job tying in the Robinson story into the larger story of civil rights in the US, making this as much a sociology book as a baseball book. Though it bogs down a bit at the end, read this book for the complete Robinson story.

  • Marc Horton
    2019-04-14 17:44

    Fantastic, thorough history not only of Jackie but also of the African-American experience in pro baseball in the years before and after that legendary 1947 season. I always regretted not taking a class from Mr. Tygiel when he taught at San Francisco State, but especially after finally reading this, and learning of his death last year.

  • Ryan Laferney
    2019-03-24 01:49

    Baseball’s Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy is perhaps the definitive work on the importance of Jackie Robinson to American history. Professor Jules Tygiel tells the story of Jackie Robinson’s crossing of baseball’s color line on April 15th, 1947, arguably one of the most important steps in the history of desegregation. Tygiel explores both the social and historical context of Robinson’s introduction into white organized baseball, focusing on the years before and after Robinson’s 1947 breakthrough. After all, Jackie Robinson’s story was not his alone - it was the story of the ballplayers that come before and after him. Tygiel simultaneously is able to paint a picture of the hypocrisy of the baseball establishment, an organization that willingly participated in racial exclusion (even when in the first half of the century, black and white teams played barnstorming games against each other) while championing the the American ideal of democracy. As Tygiel notes “..segregation in the national pastime symbolized the inherent injustices of a Jim Crow society.”(p.31). It is shameful that the baseball establishment often reflected the ethos of the times.As noted, Jackie Robinson’s story is one etched in the politics of Jim Crow. Tygiel elegantly recounts how the politics of Robinson’s era shaped baseball for better and for worse. I was particularly intrigued by Tygiel’s account of how sportswriters (particularly black sportswriters) and members of the communist party fought the racial policies of Jim Crow in Major League Baseball. The courageous efforts of politicians and sportswriters would expose contradictions between baseball rhetoric (championing an image of baseball as America’s wholesome game) and reality. This laid the foundations for the postwar onslaught against the color barrier. If baseball was truly the national pastime, the true American game, then the game needed to reflect the diverse population of the country.This is why I think legendary manager Branch Rickey –President and General Manager of Brooklyn Dodgers from 1942 to 1950 – chose Robinson to carry out the great experiment. Rickey held an idealistic, progressive view of America, of an America where a man wouldn’t be treated differently for the color of his skin. Robison held the same. Some argue that Branch Rickey’s determination to desegregate Major League Baseball was born out of his astute business sense. This is partially true, I’m sure. Managers want their teams to win and with wins comes profit. But, the motivations behind what humans do is complex. As Tygiel points out, Rickey (who was a God-fearing capitalist) might just have been an idealist as well. Perhaps Rickey proves it is possible to be a capitalist with a stern yet loving heart? Harrison Ford's portrayal of Rickey in the film 42 makes a good case for it.Tygiel paints Robinson as not only a diverse athlete, who was as Sam Lacy wrote in 1945 “the ideal man to pace the experiment” but someone who was akin to Rickey (at least in his younger years) in his vision of America. Of course, Robinson had to learn to not to be reactionary to the racism he was encountering if the experiment was to be successful but this is why Robinson remains a legend. Not only was he a versatile athlete who developed a temperament of steel but he personified the changing American conscience regarding race in the post-war era by doing so. Robinson took up the cause for Civil Rights on the diamond field. Being someone prone to reactionary impulses in regards to racism, his legend remains potent because of his endurance in the face of adversity. Not everyone championed integration in Major League Baseball. Tygiel does not steer away from the criticisms of the “great experiment.” Many saw Rickey as a money-hungry manager, who was eager for success at any cost (particularly at the expense of exploited African-Americans). Others viewed the “great experiment” as another form of social control. Many black players feared for the style of the game itself. By integrating into baseball, many argued, the Negro Leagues would disband, and would force players to play a homogenized style of baseball (the Negro Leagues were known for their nonconformity and therefore, innovative manner of playing). Owners of Negro Leagues teams often protested against the breaking of the color barrier until the Negro Leagues finally did disband in 1951, just four years after Robinson played his first game with the Dodgers. Tygiel even tells of Robinson’s own outspoken criticisms of Major League Baseball. As one of baseball's greatest heroes, Robinson (especially later in his career and after his retirement) was not afraid to challenge the status quo with not only his superior playing but sharp intellect. Many Negro League players would integrate into the Major Leagues bringing their unique style of play to the game. By the late 1950s, 15 MLB teams had integrated. As noted, the story of Robinson’s crossing of baseball’s color line is also the story of many other players. History is always connected. Baseball’s Great Experiment tells the stories of other African-American players such as Satchel Paige, Roy Campanella, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron- who helped transformed our national pastime into a more inclusive and less homogenized game alongside of Robinson. Tygiel draws on dozens of interview with players, front office executives, personal papers, newspaper accounts, to tell the account of Jackie Robinson’s influence on American baseball and society. It is a thoroughly researched work of great social and historical importance. There is a reason why the number 42 was retired and can be spotted in ballparks across the country. Robinson’s legacy is the emergence of African-Americans in athletics and in the larger society of America. It was a seminal point in the moral sense of America and the start for the march for equality on a national scale. And, this book serves as a reminder of such a legacy.

  • Mark
    2019-03-27 21:48

    Comprehensive. Gives Jackie his due but goes far beyond him.

  • Aaron Sinner
    2019-04-15 19:47

    1983 CASEY Award nominee1984 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Book Award Honorable Mention#50 Sports Illustrated Top 100 Sports Books of All Time (2002)#2, Wall Street Journal 5 Best Baseball Books (2010)Briefly: An important history textThere may be no more cherished baseball legend than the story of Jackie Robinson and his breaking of baseball’s color barrier. That legend is center stage in Baseball’s Great Experiment, which tells this historically important story that transcends baseball history. The book does an excellent job of covering the subject from multiple perspectives and within its historical context, providing both the relevant events that led to and resulted from Robinson’s journey into the major leagues. However, the book sometimes struggles as it reads as more text for a history class than compelling story. The tale is such a significant one that the facts are worth reading, but the prose itself can lag and feel dry at times.Those problems are absent while the story of Jackie Robinson is told. Robinson’s tale itself is lively and interesting; it is the contextual story, the build up and the follow-through, that sometimes throws too many names, dates, and locations too quickly for a reader to easily grasp them and empathize with those elements of the drama. Still, for its ability to tell a historic tale of baseball—perhaps The Historic Tale of Baseball—in a definitive way, while adding context and historical progression following that tale, the book is a worthwhile read.

  • Brian
    2019-03-26 18:34

    I'm a big baseball fan and have a pretty good knowledge of baseball history, especially that part that I have lived through. Jackie Robinson played before I was born and up to the time I was about 5 years old. So I knew something about Robinson and his story. Nevertheless, there was much about him and the history of baseball integration that I did not know before I read this book. And this actually forms the basis of my only criticism of this book - it was so full of information that it read like a text book or even a dissertation in American history of sports. In some places, it was a struggle to complete a chapter. You need to really care about the history of the integration of blacks in America's pastime to truly enjoy this book.

  • Bob
    2019-04-09 20:33

    A very thorough, heavily annotated, well-researched and provacative account of the integration of baseball, and its influence on (and foreshadowing of) the integration of the broader society, with all of its issues and problems, successes and failures. With an afterward written in the mid-1990s, the book observes the progress and regression of the times, in baseball and beyond. Must-read history for baseball's serious students.

  • Pat Andsteve
    2019-04-13 01:54

    Once again, a book that happens during my lifetime (like The Help), but this time non-fiction...Jackie Robinson integrating baseball after WWll. I can't say that it was a page turner, but it was illuminating about racial views 60 years ago. It was very fact-driven, I had hoped to learn more about Jackie Robinson, his life, feelings, thoughts...I will be amazed if everyone in book club finishes it!

  • Marissa
    2019-04-16 23:47

    The Mets drafted the Red Sox's first African American player shortly after they signed him (Pumpsie Green).That the Red Sox were a pretty racist organization well into the 80s, whether they knew it or not. That baseball integration was very carefully planned out.That Florida was one of the worst places to go to for an African American. That Jackie Robinson rarely had to deal with segregationist policies during his life until he went into major league baseball.

  • Sean Neahusan
    2019-04-03 20:38

    This is an excellent book about the integration of baseball, with glimpses into the life of a Negro League Ballplayer and even shorter glimpses into post WWII America. A very detailed and thorough history. This is not a light read, but if you love baseball, especially baseball history, this book is for you.

  • Diener
    2019-04-09 17:57

    Tygiel provides the reader with a much deeper understanding of an event that most of us at least know something about. A fine book that belongs on the bookshelf of the reader who not only enjoys sports, but also history and social science.

  • Valerie
    2019-04-12 01:58

    Great perspective on the integration of baseball and what it did for the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's. Enjoyed the personal stories that supported the facts and name listing. I'm sure if I was a bigger baseball fan some of the more obscure names might have made more of an impact on me.

  • Ben
    2019-04-02 17:57

    It was a good book, but a little dense and slow at times. Certainly not a riveting page turning novel. Also not a biography of Jackie Robinson. Still I learned quite a bit about a lot of early integrationist that I had never even heard of let alone known anything about.

  • Jane Rutherford
    2019-04-07 22:40

    Parts were a little hard to get through, but on the whole, once I got through some of that, it was compelling. I appreciated the history of integration and the role of baseball in it, the hard times the Black ball players had (appalling!), and seeing names of players I "know" in this new context.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-13 19:35

    It's been awhile since I have read this, but because of it, I am really excited to see the new movie, '42'. I have so much respect for this man. I thought this book did a nice job of tying in Robinson's story to the overall culture and thoughts of the time period in the US.

  • Matt
    2019-03-20 17:54

    Very good, thorough book covering the integration of MLB by Jackie and others. Really tells some fascinating, heart-wrenching stories about what these players went through to reach the majors and when they were there. A high-quality read.

  • Johnny
    2019-04-04 21:46

    my favoite book about my all time favorite Dodger

  • Steve
    2019-04-05 19:46

    This is a well-researched history of the integration of baseball. Although I really enjoyed it, I would only recommend this book for baseball history buffs.

  • Whitney
    2019-04-03 22:58

    Jackie Robinson is one of the great heroes of the Civil Rights movement, and I came to admire and respect him through this book.

  • M. Newman
    2019-04-07 01:56

    A gripping social history of desegregation centered on the breaking of the "color line" by the great Jackie Robinson, orchestrated by Branch Rickey, at the time, GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers.