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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Bob's Books - Branch Rickey by Jimmy Breslin

Jimmy Breslin has written a short, rather pithy biography of Branch Rickey. It’s sort of a wikipedia of Ricky bios. He feels the need to bring Barak Obama up in the very first paragraph. Which is rather amusing, since Rickey was a life-long Republican and Jackie Robinson supported Richard Nixon. Later in the prologue he gives you a list of the only Rickey books he considers worthwhile.

He seems determined to give you an, “aw shucks” approach to Rickey’s life; as if you were sitting on the front porch having a chat. Factually, I think he did pretty well, since he drew on a couple of the books on his approved list for his tome.

No book is expected to be error-free. But I sat up straight when I read Breslin’s statement that Jackie Robinson played in his first World Series in 1952. Any junior Robinson fan knows that he led the Dodgers to the Series in his rookie season of 1947, and most know that the team was back in 1949. Minimal research would have prevented this error.

Other than being a lot shorter than other Rickey bios, I don’t see why this was written. In the past month I’ve learned more about Branch Rickey (and the Robinson part of his tale) from books by Red Barber, Arthur Mann and Harvey Frommer. Breslin’s book absolutely isn’t worth the cover price (I bought it used). I can’t imagine using it as a resource in the future.

Jackie Robinson is my idol. And naturally, I hold Branch Rickey in great regard. There aren’t a lot of Rickey books out there, but the others are better than this one. And many of the Robinson books are more informative about Rickey than this one as well.

I've now read two books by Jimmy Breslin and wasn't impressed with either of them.

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