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Original Issue

The Robinson Effect Two new tomes reexamine the legend of Jackie Robinson and what his breaking the color barrier meant to baseball and America

Extra Bases
by Jules Tygiel
University of Nebraska Press, $17.95

Tygiel, a San Francisco State history professor who also wrote
Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and His Legacy in
1983, remains the preeminent voice on Robinson. Extra Bases
comprises 13 scholarly essays on Robinson, race and baseball
history, including Tygiel's compelling afterword to the '97
edition of Experiment in which he writes, "The Jackie Robinson
story is to Americans what the Passover story is to Jews: It
must be told to every generation so that we never forget."
Tygiel wonders about Robinson's legacy--does today's generation
find Robinson relevant or a symbol of an "idyllic, if imaginary,
past"?--but he suggests we can draw inspiration from his pride
and courage in continuing mankind's struggles against its own

Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball
by Scott Simon
John Wiley & Sons, $19.95

"There's no need for a new chronicle about Jackie Robinson's
arrival in major league baseball," Simon opines toward the end of
this volume. So why write one? According to Simon, Sept. 11
forced Americans to reassess what a hero is, and the author wants
readers to know Robinson deserves that honorific because he "gave
his life for something great"--America's promise of equality. Did
a black player taking the field in 1947 face the danger a
firefighter encounters when entering a burning tower? Simon
doesn't make that case, but he traces Robinson's bravery while
excelling and lighting a path to social justice. Simon sometimes
uses a sanctimonious tone and injects glib comic relief, oddities
that clash with the significance of Robinson's feat.