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True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson

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Notes From Black Reads

Jackie Robinson is an iconic figure in sports and civil rights and has been written about many times before, but this new book from Kostya Kennedy zeroes in on four specific years. By digging into details previously unreported, Kennedy sheds welcome light on these transformative periods in Robinson's life.

Winner of the CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year

is a probing, richly-detailed, unique biography of Jackie Robinson, one of baseball's—and America's—most significant figures.

For players, fans, managers, and executives, Jackie Robinson remains baseball’s singular figure, the person who most profoundly extended, and continues to extend, the reach of the game. Beyond Ruth. Beyond Clemente. Beyond Aaron. Beyond the heroes of today. Now, a half-century since Robinson’s death, letters come to his widow, Rachel, by the score. But Robinson’s impact extended far beyond baseball: he opened the door for Black Americans to participate in other sports, and was a national figure who spoke and wrote eloquently about inequality.

True: The Four Seasons of Jackie Robinson by Kostya Kennedy is an unconventional biography, focusing on four transformative years in Robinson's athletic and public life: 1946, his first year playing in the essentially all-white minor leagues for the Montreal Royals; 1949, when he won the Most Valuable Player Award in his third season as a Brooklyn Dodger; 1956, his final season in major league baseball, when he played valiantly despite his increasing health struggles; and 1972, the year of his untimely death. Through it all, Robinson remained true to the effort and the mission, true to his convictions and contradictions.

Kennedy examines each of these years through details not reported in previous biographies, bringing them to life in vivid prose and through interviews with fans and players who witnessed his impact, as well as with Robinson's surviving family. These four crucial years offer a unique vision of Robinson as a player, a father and husband, and a civil rights hero—a new window on a complex man, tied to the 50th anniversary of his passing and the 75th anniversary of his professional baseball debut.

ISBN-13: 9781250782892

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group

Publication Date: 04-18-2023

Pages: 288

Product Dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.94(h) x 1.00(d)

Kostya Kennedy is an editorial director at Meredith and a former Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated. He is the New York Times bestselling author of 56: Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports (runner-up for the 2012 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing) and Pete Rose: An American Dilemma. Both won the CASEY Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year. He has taught at Columbia and NYU, and lives with his wife and daughters in Westchester County, NY.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Spring/1946

Stance 3

Montreal 6

Before Montreal, Florida 20

Montreal, Midsummer 39

Had Robinson Gone Early to Brooklyn 49

A Letter in Atlanta 54

The Last of Robinson's Beginning 55

Part 2 Summer/1949

Basepaths 65

Brooklyn 73

Georgia 82

Brooklyn, The Streets 86

Feather 110

St. Albans 119

Part 3 Autumn/1956

Brooklyn 133

Boundless 152

Affinity 157

Brooklyn 165

Pat 4 Winter/1972

Gifts 187

Passages 189

Los Angeles to Cincinnati 203

Riverside 232

The Afterlife

Foundation 241

In Present Memory 249

Acknowledgments 259

Selected Bibliography 263

Index 269