Two Pioneers


Two Pioneers

How Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson Transformed Baseball--and America

Robert C. Cottrell

304 pages


April 2012


$39.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

May 2012


$39.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

As the first great Jewish player in the major leagues and the first African American to play major-league baseball during the twentieth century, respectively, Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson are forever linked because of the barriers they encountered, the discrimination they endured, the athletic gifts they exhibited, and especially the courage and dignity they displayed. Both suffered ridicule and abuse as they participated in the national pastime. Nevertheless, each excelled. Greenberg became one of the preeminent sluggers of the 1930s and 1940s who took a break from baseball to serve in the war. Robinson, from the mid-1940s into the following decade, helped bring back speed and a thinking man’s approach to the game, both of which had largely been discarded for a generation.Two Pioneers presents these remarkable players’ experiences while competing in a nation that was deeply divided on social issues such as anti-Semitism and racism. Both men earned nearly as much attention off the field as they did on it. Greenberg called into question the idea of a “master race” as Adolf Hitler rose to power and gained supporters all over the world. Likewise, Robinson contested racial notions regarding the supposed inferiority of people of African ancestry, even though segregationists proved determined to maintain social barriers separating blacks and whites. It is only fitting that when Robinson finally crossed baseball’s color line, Greenberg was one of the first players to welcome him publicly.Robert Cottrell’s well-researched work shows how two baseball superstars became important figures in the civil rights crusade to ensure that all Americans, no matter their religion or race, are given equal opportunity.

Author Bio

Robert C. Cottrell has written twenty books, including The Best Pitcher in Baseball: The Life of Rube Foster, Negro League Giant (2001); Roger Nash Baldwin and the American Civil Liberties Union (2000); and Izzy: A Biography of I. F. Stone (1992). He lives in Chico, California, where he teaches at California State University–Chico.


"A good read for baseball fans."—Review, Choice, December 2012

"Robert Cottrell vividly portrays how purpose, determination, sacrifice, and hard work trumped entrenched racism and anti-Semitism on and off the field. An inspirational tribute to the human spirit."—Bob Luke, author of The Most Famous Woman in Baseball: Effa Manley and the Negro Leagues

"In Two Pioneers, distinguished historian Robert Cottrell situates two of sport’s most enduring icons, Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg, not just in the context of baseball history but in that of a nation confronting its own racial and social contradictions. His uncompromising and thoughtful interpretation of their lives and times captures their struggle to make this country live up to its ideals and reminds us of why they mattered."—Rob Ruck, professor of history, University of Pittsburgh, and author of Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game

"Baseball has a long history of being an important social force in America. Hank Greenberg and Jackie Robinson were men with great physical skills and exceptional moral strength whose baseball prowess transcended the athletic arena in ways that were truly inspirational. Robert Cottrell has done a masterful job of intertwining their accomplishments and the contexts of their times, creating a fine narrative that is compelling to read."—Dave Smith, founder and president, Retrosheet