BIMH #2: I Never Had It Made (Jackie Robinson)

I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson (as told to Alfred Duckett)

Initial Thoughts: This book is beat. There are creases everywhere, and on the bottom left corner of the cover are bite marks similar to those seen on any given forearm after a childhood fist fight with your sister. There’s one massive crease that stands out from the rest near the binding of the book. It’s apparent that this piece of literature has been heavily neglected as the forming of such a crease is nearly impossible without its owner haphazardly shoving it page first into a backpack before arriving late to class or into a box before a move across the country.

The design is pretty cool. It’s a snapshot of Chadwick Boseman who plays the legendary Jackie Robinson in the movie “42”, which is based around this book. The captured image has Boseman sliding into what is most likely second base with his mouth fiercely open and what is seemingly an uppercut into thin air. Or maybe it’s an uppercut for the player covering second base and the image of Boseman connecting his fist with a pair of balls was edited out for obvious reasons.

Okay, I know this picture is supposed to be a symbolic representation of Robinson, not only as a phenomenal baseball player, but as a black man in a country that was whiter than it is currently. But in all honesty, the fist is on some next level gouda cheese. I don’t watch too much baseball, but I have never seen a man slide into a base while also trying to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

On the back is an exce– you don’t care so let’s move on.

How Yellow The Pages Are On A Scale Of 1 To Big Bird: Brown Bird

The Actual Review: I Never Had It Made is the autobiography of the extraordinary Jackie Robinson. The memoir, as told to freelance writer Alfred Duckett, takes you through the life of Robinson, from his early childhood to his eventual year of death, and gives you an inside look into the psyche of a black athlete – and man – who was way ahead of his time.

Although the book was written and published in 1972, many of the stories and events that transpired in and around Robinson’s life is still very much reflective of the kind of society Americans live in nearly a half century later.

Duckett does a great job of capturing Robinson’s voice. You can almost hear the bubbling frustration lying beneath the calm and collected prose that I imagine Robinson was forced to master in the hopes of changing the way black lives were viewed in America. It is a miracle that this book isn’t filled with f-bombs as many of the legendary Dodger’s personal anecdotes will make your blood boil and your hair turn white.

In the end, Robinson’s memoir should have been, well, just that: an autobiography from a sports hero from the 1940s, one that is celebrated and read as an example of what not to do to a group of people that aren’t white. But sadly, there are one-too-many parallels that can be drawn between Robinson’s time and ours.

If you’re a sports fan, you must read this book. If you’re an activist for black rights or any rights, you must read this book. If you’re interested in equality in any shape or form, you must read this book.

Re-Read Factor: Not lookin’ so good. I’ll be honest and say that it took me a while to get through this book. While powerful, many parts seemed dragged out. I definitely caught myself reading, but, like, not actually reading. I think one time I read the same paragraph five times.

However, if you’re looking for another weapon to add to your arsenal for Facebook comments section arguments, particularly for videos and articles that focus on how politics plays into sports, be sure to pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

Personal Thoughts: For me, the most gripping and telling parts throughout the book are the ones that focus on Robinson’s first-born son, Jackie Robinson Jr.

Jackie Jr. was a troubled man who struggled with the success of his father and would eventually get hooked on hard drugs. Robinson had everything a black man could ask for during his time and yet, the one circumstance he couldn’t fix was the relationship with his son. And just when things are getting better, that relationship is taken from him.

There’s profound sadness in that, yes, but I believe there’s also a fleeting beauty in it as well. It really humanizes our heroes and is a gentle reminder that they’re just like us, and that if they can do it, we can as well.

God, that was so cheesy. It sounded a lot better in my head and I would go ahead and edit it, but this post is long overdue and there are too many books left to read.

Favorite Quote: “I have always fought for what I believed in. I have had a great deal of support and I have tried to return that support with my best effort. However, there is one irrefutable fact of my life which has determined much of what happened to me: I was a black man in a white world. I never had it made.

Next Up: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Ranking:

  1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  2. I Never Had It Made (An Autobiography) by Jackie Robinson

 

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