Two baseball heroes who battled hatred and prejudice met for the first time in an on-field collision.
Jackie Robinson and Hank Greenberg were both determined to play baseball, and they both served in the armed forces in World War II. But dealing with racial and religious bigotry was the true common thread that wove through their lives. They faced restrictions on their freedom to live in certain neighborhoods, stay in hotels or join clubs. They heard threatening epithets and had objects thrown at them. When they collided at first base, the crowd shouted for them to fight, but they just got on with the game, and Greenberg had some words of sympathetic encouragement for Robinson. In their retirement years, they remained friendly, and both worked for equal rights in and out of baseball. Employing a matter-of-fact, conversational tone, Fishman tells the stories of their lives in tandem, stating the physical distances that separated them while emphasizing the similarities of their parallel struggles. History is contextualized in language and syntax that is accessible and straightforward. Elliott’s acrylics, softly tinted and framed in white, variously depict the two lives separately or in a split-screen format that complements not only the action, but the spirit of the work.
A gentle and loving reminder that baseball mirrors society and can also transcend it. (biographical information, websites, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)