FOX News journalist and avid baseball fan Ed Henry released a book earlier this month entitled 42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story. He was kind enough to send me a copy for review, and what better time to share it than a couple days before the anniversary of Robinson making his debut in the major leagues.
This story of the faith that guided Robinson through the toughest times in his life, as he battled discrimination at the height of the civil rights movement, digs deep to uncover the truth behind major decisions made both by Robinson and those with whom he played. From Dodgers management to fellow players who made history alongside Robinson in his early days in the majors, the characters surrounding him paint a picture of the man of faith that Robinson was and the path he paved for those to follow.
Henry dives into the manuscripts of an unpublished book that Robinson wrote, titled My Greatest Day. While parts of it were revised and published in a different book in 1965, the portions that dealt with Robinson’s faith were mostly left out. Early in his life, Robinson was challenged to believe that God was a force of good and that faith in Him should spur goodness on in ourselves. It was this faith that enabled him to boldly take on a challenge that would alter history– as Henry puts it, a failure by Robinson would have made it even more difficult to diversify major league baseball. The weight of a civil rights struggle was on his shoulders.
Jackie’s mother, Mallie Robinson, is one whom Henry cites as an enormous influence that fostered his ability to return hatred with kindness. She encouraged him to “take the high road whenever possible as he faced discrimination,” and to stand up for what he believed in. Henry includes stories of fellow players attempting to “accidentally” injure Robinson once he finally made it to the major leagues, and tells of Robinson’s even-tempered responses to even the worst jabs.
From being kicked off a plane to allow more room for white passengers, to people threatening to cancel games once they heard he would be playing, Robinson faced an uphill battle that he faced with a determination that only comes from a faith-rooted perspective. Ed Henry does a fantastic job of outlining this defining time in history and the man who led the way for a civil rights movement to happen within baseball parks around the country. This book is a winner for sports fans as well as for folks interested in the impact faith had on one of history’s biggest gamechangers. Many thanks to Ed for giving me an early copy for review!