"ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN TO A NEGRO WHO THOUGHT HE COULD PLAY BALL WITH WHITE MEN ON AN EQUAL BASIS”: FIRST EDITION OF JACKIE ROBINSON'S FIRST AUTOBIOGRAPHY, MY OWN STORY, 1948
ROBINSON, Jackie and SMITH, Wendell. Jackie Robinson. My Own Story. New York: Greenberg, (1948). Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. $1100.
First edition of Robinson's first autobiography, published the year after he broke baseball's color line and faced racist threats on and off the field to be named Rookie of the Year, with Foreword by Branch Rickey and 48 pages of photographic illustrations.
"Jackie Robinson, breaking baseball's color barrier, gathered more attention than any other figure in the history of U.S. civil rights struggles" (Kelly, Integrating America). In 1997 Baseball Commissioner Selig underlined Robinson's revolutionary impact. "Throughout its long history," he said, "Major League Baseball has operated under the premise that no single person is bigger than the game–-no single person other than Jackie Robinson." On publication of My Own Story, co-authored with award-winning Black journalist Wendell Smith, it was praised as "a moving story from start to finish." In facing almost unrelenting racism that first year, "Robinson had to control his temper and he shrugged it off" (New York Times).
Robinson writes of being forced to ride in the back of the bus to get to Dodgers' training camp, where he and a Black pitcher who had been signed as a prospect were greeted by a Dodgers man in the clubhouse. "I'm not exactly what you'd call a part of this great experiment," the man said, "but just go out there… and be yourselves." Robinson immediately thought: "Be ourselves? Here in the heart of the race-conscious South?" It was clear "that this was hostile territory—that anything could happen any time to a Negro who thought he could play ball with white men on an equal basis." Years later, in his 1972 memoir, Robinson wrote of hearing the National Anthem at Game 1 of the World Series. It was a moment that should have been triumphant. But that first year had instead reminded him, over and over, that he was "a Black man in a white world… in 1947, at my birth in 1919, I know that I never had it made." First edition: with no statement of editions on the copyright page. With Foreword by Branch Rickey, who signed Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers and notes: "Only those on the team know the great patience and self-control he exercised continuously throughout the season." With 48 photographic illustrations. Grobani 8-48. Smith 18353. Small owner bookplate.
Book fine; trace of edge-wear, small closed tear to rear lower edge of bright about-fine dust jacket.