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Reclaiming 42

Public Memory and the Reframing of Jackie Robinson's Radical Legacy

David Naze

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 06/2019
Pages: 246
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9781496214942


Reclaiming 42 centers on one of America's most respected cultural icons, Jackie Robinson, and the forgotten aspects of his cultural legacy. Since his retirement in 1956, and more strongly in the last twenty years, America has primarily remembered Robinson's legacy in an oversimplified way, as the pioneering first black baseball player to integrate the Major Leagues. The mainstream commemorative discourse regarding Robinson's career has been created and directed largely by Major League Baseball (MLB), which sanitized and oversimplified his legacy into narratives of racial reconciliation that celebrate his integrity, character, and courage while excluding other aspects of his life, such as his controversial political activity, his public clashes with other prominent members of the black community, and his criticism of MLB. MLB's commemoration of Robinson reflects a professional sport that is inclusive, racially and culturally tolerant, and largely postracial. Yet Robinson's identity—and therefore his memory—has been relegated to the boundaries of a baseball diamond and to the context of a sport, and it is within this oversimplified legacy that history has failed him. The dominant version of Robinson's legacy ignores his political voice during and after his baseball career and pays little attention to the repercussions that his integration had on many factions within the black community.Reclaiming 42 illuminates how public memory of Robinson has undergone changes over the last sixty-plus years and moves his story beyond Robinson the baseball player, opening a new, broader interpretation of an otherwise seemingly convenient narrative to show how Robinson's legacy ultimately should both challenge and inspire public memory.  


David Naze is the dean of academic excellence and support at Joliet Junior College.     


"Reclaiming 42 is a must-read for anyone interested in the relationship between sports and politics. It will appeal to baseball novices and baseball experts alike. David Naze's exploration of Jackie Robinson's vocal critiques of racial inequalities, and modern-day efforts to erase any controversial elements from Robinson's memory, are especially timely."—Jonathan J. Cavallero, associate professor of rhetoric, film, and screen studies at Bates College

"The story of Major League Baseball could not be told without mentioning Jackie Robinson. But his legacy too often has been simplified and sanitized, made to fit safely within our preconceived narratives about the role of race and sport in the United States. In this book, Dave Naze recovers a complex and human Robinson whose legacy exceeds the limitations of those narratives. Through a skillful analysis that addresses Robinson's political activism and his prolific writings, as well as the ways that he has been memorialized, Naze invites us to understand that Jackie Robinson speaks not only to the ages but to our own time."—Robert E. Terrill, professor of rhetoric in the Department of English at Indiana University, Bloomington

"A compelling contribution to the scholarship on Jackie Robinson and also on the Negro Leagues."—Michael Butterworth, professor of communication studies and director of the Center for Sports Communication & Media at the University of Texas at Austin