The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson's First Spring Training

Chris Lamb

233 pages


March 2006


$16.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In the spring of 1946, following the defeat of Hitler’s Germany, America found itself still struggling with the subtler but no less insidious tyrannies of racism and segregation at home. In the midst of it all, Jackie Robinson, a full year away from breaking major league baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, was undergoing a harrowing dress rehearsal for integration—his first spring training as a minor league prospect with the Montreal Royals, Brooklyn’s AAA team. In Blackout, Chris Lamb tells what happened during these six weeks in segregated Florida—six weeks that would become a critical juncture for the national pastime and for an American society on the threshold of a civil rights revolution.

Blackout chronicles Robinson’s tremendous ordeal during that crucial spring training—how he struggled on the field and off. The restaurants and hotels that welcomed his white teammates were closed to him, and in one city after another he was prohibited from taking the field. Steeping his story in its complex cultural context, Lamb describes Robinson’s determination and anxiety, the reaction of the black and white communities to his appearance, and the unique and influential role of the press—mainstream reporting, the alternative black weeklies, and the Communist Daily Worker—in the integration of baseball. Told here in detail for the first time, this story brilliantly encapsulates the larger history of a man, a sport, and a nation on the verge of great and enduring change.

Author Bio

Chris Lamb is a professor of journalism at the Indiana University School of Journalism, Indianapolis.


"Lamb's detailed and annotated research provides an in-depth examination of an important step in the integration of baseball, a step that, up until now, has not received the coverage it deserves. Of interest both to baseball fans and social historians."—Booklist

Lamb tells what Robinson faced in 1946 in segregated Florida—six weeks that would become a critical juncture for the national pastime and for an American society on the threshold of a civil rights revolution."—Dermot McEvoy, Publishers Weekly

"[A]n important contribution to American Studies."—Choice

"In his richly sourced examination of Robinson's first spring training, Lamb puts readers on the back of a hot Greyhound bus as it makes its way through the Jim Crow South of the mid-1940s. . . . Throughout the book Lamb carefully documents who wrote what, analyzing the black press, mainstream dailies, the Daily Worker, a national newspaper for communists, and even southern newspapers. This comprehensiveness in sources is unprecedented in examinations of press coverage of Robinson's life or career, making it a good investment for researchers in the field based on its footnotes alone. The book also deserves credit for turning attention to the black sportswriters who, as the author writes, 'faced their own color line.'"—American Journalism

“Lamb does an excellent job of setting this pivotal episode in baseball history in the larger context of race relations of the South, providing a number of graphic examples of violence against blacks in order to emphasize the dangerous world that Robinson and Wright were entering when they arrived in Florida as new members of the Montreal Royals, Brooklyn’s main minor league team.”—Michael Cocchiarale, Aethlon

"Blackout is the most complete analysis of Robinson's first spring training available as Lamb has probed the press reports to new depths and in the process revealed another facet of the two America's divided along racial lines. Blackout is also a volume that is essential to any understanding of the events of sixty years ago in Florida and their significance for baseball, for Florida, and for America."—Richard Crepeau, Sports Literature Association

"Blackout is well written, engaging, and analytically sound. It is a work that belongs in all baseball libraries as well as those on American social history."—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society


Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore Award, sponsored by the Florida Historical Society and Florida Institute of Technology, best social and ethnographic history category winner

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