04/15/2008 2:21 PM ET
Breaking barriers, remembering Jackie
A look at how Robinson has shaped popular culture
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
Through the years, Jackie Robinson has been celebrated by Major League Baseball and in the entertainment world. Here's a hand-picked sampling from the huge selection of movies, television shows, books and even music that feature Jackie himself or simply honor one of the true pioneers of sports and American society.
"The Jackie Robinson Story," 1950: Jackie plays himself in this true-to-life biopic that tracks his career from the Negro Leagues all the way to the Majors.
"Soul of the Game," 1996: This cable movie stars Blair Underwood as Jackie alongside Mykelti Williamson as Josh Gibson and Delroy Lindo as Satchel Paige and deals with how Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey's choice of Jackie to be the first black Major Leaguer affected Negro Leagues icons Gibson and Paige.
"Jackie Robinson: Breaking Barriers," 1997: This documentary video chronicles Jackie's life and career with revealing interviews from his family and friends. It commemorates the 50th anniversary of his Major League debut.
"Untitled Jackie Robinson project," 2008: This one is in the works, with ESPN and Robert Redford working together on the project and Redford set to play Branch Rickey. No word yet on who has won the role of Jackie, but the movie has the go-ahead from Jackie's widow, Rachel, the Rickey family and Major League Baseball.
"What's My Line?" 1950: Jackie was the "Mystery Guest" on an episode of the popular game show that also featured a bill collector, a junk dealer and a tuba player.
"Sesame Street," 1970: A distinguished older Jackie recites the alphabet on the children's show, a memorable exercise that can still be found on many viral video sites across the Internet.
"The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson," 1990: This TV feature starring Andre Braugher as Jackie deals with Robinson's early life as a member of the U.S. Army when he was court-martialed for insubordination for refusing to go the back of a bus in the racist south.
"When It Was A Game," 1991: In this groundbreaking film and the following year's sequel, Jackie and other stars of his era are seen for the first time in vibrant full-color cinematography, courtesy of 8mm and 16mm film taken by players and fans.
"Brooklyn Dodgers: The Ghosts of Flatbush," 2007: A long-awaited documentary looks at the history of the Dodgers, including Jackie's breaking of the color barrier and spanning the years until the team's move to Los Angeles.
"I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson," by Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett, 1972: Who better to tell you about the life and work of Jackie Robinson than the man himself? This fascinating read is more about the pursuit of social justice than baseball, which makes it timeless and of great significance.
"Jackie Robinson: A Biography," by Arnold Rampersad, 1998: Thoroughly researched and over 550 pages in length, Rampersad interviewed countless subjects and produced a comprehensive, impressively fashioned story of Jackie's life.
"Jackie and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure," by Dan Gutman, 2000: One of many, many children's books about Jackie, this creative treatment follows the schoolboy protagonist who uses one of Jackie's baseball cards to travel back in time and take part in a memorable Brooklyn baseball adventure.
Promises To Keep: How Jackie Robinson Changed America," by Sharon Robinson, 2004: Family photographs and personal stories are strewn throughout this loving book written by Jackie's daughter.
"What I Learned from Jackie Robinson: A Teammate's Reflections on and off the Field," by Carl Erskine, 2005: Former Dodgers teammate and friend Erskine tells lots of great stories from the clubhouse and beyond in this touching memoir.
"Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season," by Jonathan Eig, 2007: Acclaimed biographer Eig, who also profiled Lou Gehrig in the 2005 best-seller "Luckiest Man," traces Jackie's 1947 campaign in great detail.
"First Class Citizenship: The Civil Rights Letters of Jackie Robinson," by Michael G. Long (Editor), 2007: This eye-opening collection of letters from 1946 to 1972 reveals the magnitude of the people Jackie kept in contact with, movers and shakers such as Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Barry Goldwater.
"Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?" Buddy Johnson and Count Basie, 1949: This song, written to honor Jackie's debut in the Major Leagues, made the charts a few years later when Count Basie re-recorded the song originally written by Buddy Johnson. It includes the classic stanza, "Satchel Paige is mellow, so is (Roy) Campanella, (Don) Newcombe and (Larry) Doby, too/But it's a natural fact, when Jackie comes to bat, the other team is through."
"Stealing Home: Jackie Robinson Tribute," Assorted Artists, 1997: The only CD ever dedicated solely to Jackie Robinson celebrates the 50th anniversary of his breaking of MLB's color barrier with a parade of R&B stars from four decades. The album includes Sly and the Family Stone, the Isley Brothers, Aretha Franklin, the Impressions, Luther Vandross and the O'Jays along with more current groups such as Spearhead, Sounds of Blackness and the Fugees. There's also a poetry reading by Nikki Giovanni about Jackie called "Stealing Home: For Jack Robinson."
Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.