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Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy Paperback – 27 Feb 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; 25 edition (27 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195339282
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195339284
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 2.8 x 13.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,097,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Rich, intelligent cultural history.... The effect of Mr. Tygiel's lively narrative is to make us realize, or remind us in case we've forgotten, what a remarkable impact Rickey's experiment had on baseball. (The New York Times)

Not only is this a book that is long overdue, but it turns out to be a book that is well worth the wait; it is comprehensive, perceptive, balanced (and into the bargain it is eminently readable.)

Gives us the first in-depth, fully rounded picture of the successful integration of major league baseball. (The New Republic)

A thumpingly good baseball book. (Chicago Sun-Times)

About the Author

Jules Tygiel, a native of Brooklyn, is Professor of History at San Francisco State University and founder of the Pacific Ghost League. He is the author of The Great Los Angeles Swindle: Oil, Stocks, and Scandal During the Roaring Twenties.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The early twentieth century saw baseball achieve almost mythical proportions in popularity. In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier and became a myth himself. He forever changed the way the game was played and helped the cause of civil rights everywhere. Tygeil writes passionately about Robinson's character and achievements and puts them in perspective with the time he lived. After reading this book, you will never look at baseball or civil rights the same. This is not just another book on baseball. This book shows how baseball changed humanity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars 22 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive book on Robinson and civil rights 15 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Professor Tygiel's book is the definitive work on the importance of Jackie Robinson to American history. Tygiel writes a well-researched, dynamic narrative that illustrates Robinson's incredible achievements and strength of character. This book, unlike others on Robinson, focuses on the years before and after 1947 as well. By doing this, Tygiel reveals the impact of Robinson's achievement in the context of the emerging civil rights movement. Jackie Robinson's story was not his alone- it was the story of the ballplayers who came after him. The book also shows how Robinson's courageous seasons personified the changing American conscience regarding race in the post-war era.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceeds Expectations 12 Dec. 2001
By Susan Graham - Published on
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book to learn more about Jackie Robinson and his relationship with Branch Rickey. Jules Tygiel gave me that (in an unbiased, thorough manner with great historical perspective) and then some! I gained an increased appreciation for the role of the Negro Leagues in the development of Major League baseball. I gained insight into the changing perceptions of baseball management, players and fans toward African-Americans and their contributions to the game. I was momentarily transported to that time, not as long ago as I would have thought, where non-white players were treated as second-class citizens. It was really an eye-opener. In addition, Mr. Tygiel's style was so honest and even-handed that I can't wait to read his book, "Past Time: Baseball As History," which I ordered today!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Done 1 Sept. 2001
By K.A.Goldberg - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This scholarly yet readable look at baseball integration from 1947-1959 goes well beyond the inspiring story of Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. Author Jules Tygiel also informs about such secondary figures as Larry Doby, Bill Veeck, Hank Aaron, Pumpsie Green, etc. Tygiel shows that integration proceeded slowly and in the face of strong resistance - the Boston Red Sox didn't add a black player until 1959, three years after Jackie Robinson retired. We also see how baseball integration spurred civil rights, while hastening the end of the Negro Leagues. I'd have liked more coverage of baseball's declining attendance after 1949 (probably caused by television), and the suspected correlation between athletic dominance and underclass poverty. Still, BASEBALL'S GREAT EXPERIMENT is a well-researched look at an interesting period in sports history.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read baseball classic 2 May 2009
By Barry Sparks - Published on
Format: Paperback
Author Jules Tygiel describes "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy," as "Not a biography of Jackie Robinson, but rather a broad social history of the integration process in baseball." Naturally, Robinson plays a central role in the story.

In the afterword of the 25th anniversary edition of the classic work, Tygiel stresses that the book is also the history of the Negro Leagues, the campaign to end segregation in baseball, the experiences of other African Americans and non-White Hispanic players in both the minor and major leagues.

The segregation of baseball is a sad chapter in its history. In 1942, Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis said there was no rule of any kind prohibiting Negroes from playing in the major leagues. Baseball blamed other parties and circumstances beyond their control for the absence of Negroes in the majors. Baseball executive Larry MacPhail blamed the absence of Blacks on ignorant protesters, inadequate black athletes and the greedy Negro Leagues.

Unbelievably, in 1945 The Sporting News stated there was "not a single Negro player with major league possibilities." Around the same time, Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller said he could not see any future in major league baseball for Jackie Robinson.

World War II and the integration of the armed forces was the watershed in the struggle for civil rights, according to Tygiel. The efforts of black sportswriters, the Communist Party and a handful of white sportswriters helped open the door to integration.

Robinson was the right man to integrate baseball because he was "tough, intelligent and proud." Under terrific pressure while playing for Montreal in the International League in 1946, Robinson passed the test with a superb performance. He led the league in batting average and runs and was second in stolen bases.

Robinson faced many challenges during his rookie season with the Dodgers in 1947, but he met them on and off the field. By the end of the year, he was voted Rookie of the Year and the second most popular man in America (only behind Bing Crosby) in a national poll.

Robinson opened the doors for players such as Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe, Luke Easter, Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson. Many black players such as Piper Davis and Ray Danridge, however, were denied the full means of fame they deserved.

Even after Robinson broke the color barrier, black players had to endure discrimination and despicable behavior through the 1950s and 1960s, particularly in the minor leagues. As Tygiel notes, "most teams headed down the begrudging path to integration."

Every serious baseball fan should read this book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece 15 Oct. 2009
By Howard Roitman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the seminal work on this subject and is important for an understanding of race relations in this country, as well as the transformation of baseball into the game as we know it today.
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