Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson On Life After Baseball edited by Michael G. Long (2013)
Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson On Life After Baseball
edited by Michael G. Long
Syracuse University Press, 2013
Despite his short career, Jackie Robinson remains one of the most well-known baseball players in history. Robinson was, of course, the man who broke the color barrier, the first black baseball player in the twentieth century. The recent Hollywood production 42 is a wonderful tribute to the man and gives us a glimpse of the pain and prejudice he faced when he courageously took his position on the baseball diamond in 1947.
After his playing career ended, Robinson took the fight for equality to pen and paper. Writing columns for the New York Post, New York Amsterdam News, and other publications, Robinson discussed a number of issues that caused division between white and black people. He wrote about his time in baseball, fondly remembering Branch Rickey and Pee Wee Reese. He expressed his disdain toward the racism that still existed in the Boston Red Sox organization at the time and in the lack of African Americans in front office and managerial positions. He touched on the Hall of Fame, at first bracing himself for the possibility that he would not be admitted and then, after learning of his election, writing, “I consider this honor the greatest which could have come to me.”
His columns were not limited to the subject of baseball, however. Robinson also wrote about racism in the PGA and in politics. He devoted ink to his family—his mother, his siblings, his wife, his children. And his readers were well aware of civil rights, from Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Editor Michael G. Long does a wonderful job collecting these articles into this anthology, Beyond Home Plate: Jackie Robinson On Life After Baseball. These writings shed some light on Robinson’s opinions and activities after he left the baseball diamond. Long writes, “If there is any theme that unites many of the topics that Robinson addressed in his columns, it is this: first-class citizenship for all US citizens, especially African Americans who had long been denied the fundamental rights guaranteed by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”