Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball
by Scott Simon
John Wiley & Son, 2002
Like Babe Ruth, another outsized force of nature, Dawkins’ blithe spirit is keeping him from a major job in the NBA or college, despite his superior knowledge of basketball. And like Ruth, “Double D” had gargantuan appetites for women, food and booze. In his tell-all book, Dawkins portrays the NBA as a progressive organization still dealing with the consequences of integration. The bottom line is that a “company man,” black or white, is still the preferred choice for coaching management and lesser player. There is nothing new in Dawkins 228-page book, but there’s a lot of frank peeks behind the scenes.
Simon’s tribute to Robinson takes us through Robinson’s rookie year with the Dodgers in 168 pages. Simon shares my previously expressed admiration for Robinson and what he and Branch Rickey did for this nation. If you wanted to read a contemporary essay on this avatar of civil rights, warts and all, this is the best place to start.
Both Dawkins and Robinson share something in common—they are and were serious “race” men, with fierce competitive spirits. I kind of think Jackie, having had a son who beat drug addiction, would have embraced Dawkins like an errant son. I can see the old Dodger cheering Dawkins on when, he is finally on the NBA sideline, at last.