Dodger legend debuts book about Jackie Robinson

Fri, 2012-07-27 11:25 -- univcomm

Anderson University’s Cultural Resource Center and the Robert A. Nicholson University Library will celebrate Black History Month by debuting a special book written by Anderson native, AU alum, and Dodger baseball legend Carl Erskine entitled, "What I Learned from Jackie Robinson: A Teammate’s reflection On and Off the Field." Co-written by New York Times bestselling author Burton Rocks, the book is an intimate look at Jackie Robinson’s fight for equality, from one of his a former teammates and longtime friends. The special book signing will take place at 6:30 p.m., February 24, in the lobby of Reardon Auditorium at Anderson University. Advance copies of the book will be available for $16 during the event. The book signing is open to the public.

In this endearing personal memoir, former Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine takes us back to the giddy postwar heyday of Brooklyn baseball. In a time when the sport was just recovering from the ravages of World War II and when the United States still divided buses and lunch counters into black and white, baseball stepped up to the plate and invited Jackie Robinson onto the field. The game--and all professional sports--would never be the same.

Carl Erskine was in the minor leagues when he first met Jackie Robinson. It was spring training in 1948, and after pitching five solid innings against the formidable Dodgers lineup the young Erskine walked back to the dugout, stomping the dirt from his cleats and praying that someone from the big club would tap him on the shoulder. That someone was Jackie Robinson. “You're going to be with us real soon” were the unforgettable words he spoke to the young hopeful. Within just a few months, Jackie's prediction came true. And so began an enduring friendship that would teach the author many important lessons about patience, fortitude, and doing the right thing--even when the chips were down.

In honor of his friend, Erskine has teamed up with "New York Times" bestselling coauthor Burton Rocks to give us a one-of-a-kind social memoir. As both a former teammate and close friend of Robinson, Erskine shares his memories of Jackie's crusade for racial equality, along with his heroic exploits on the field, and in the end relates it to his son Jimmy's personal struggles against prejudice as a person with Down syndrome. Featuring a sixteen-page insert containing several never-published personal photos, this moving portrait takes us inside the locker room at Ebbets Field, inside the soul of Jackie Robinson, and inside the hearts of his friends and teammates.

To paint this complicated portrait of an American hero, Erskine recalls his many seasons with number 42 and brings us face-to-face with the important people in Robinson's life. He brings us first-hand stories from Robinson's widow, Rachel; from teammates Duke Snider, Don Newcombe, Pee Wee Reese, and Roy Campanella; manager Charlie Dressen; and from the many other players, coaches, and sportswriters who remembered Jackie best. A unique combination of personal reflection and in-depth research, What I Learned from Jackie Robinson is a testament to a man and a game that, together, helped break through racial barriers and level the playing field.

Carl Erskine, an Anderson native and longtime Hoosier resident, pitched for the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers also affectionately known as the Boys of Summer. From 1948-60, Erskine pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers and later the Los Angeles Dodgers. During the twelve years of his major league career, Erskine logged 122 wins and 78 losses, including winning two World Series Championships and pitching two no-hitters against the Cubs in 1952 and the Giants in 1956. While playing with the Dodgers, Carl came back to Indiana and to the Anderson University campus in his hometown to enroll in several classes during the off-season. After his professional baseball days, Carl spent 12 years coaching the Anderson University Raven baseball program. He has also served as a member of the Anderson University Board of Trustees and was named trustee emeritus in 1993. In addition, Erskine has served in various leadership roles within the community of Anderson, including Special Olympics of Madison County and Star Financial Bank in Anderson just to name a few.

Anderson University is a private, Christian, liberal arts institution of approximately, 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, the university offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs of study in business, education, nursing and theology.