Putnam, May 2004, 24.95,288pp
In 1947, Branch Rickey, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, shocks America when he announces that he is breaking the color barrier by bringing up Jackie Robinson from the Montreal farm team. However, Mr. Rickey knows that many people do not want to see the line broken so to keep Jackie safe, he hires former World War II marine Joseph Burke to act as a bodyguard.
Robinson and Burke quickly develop mutual respect though they are as different a duo as any pairing on the planet could be. Perhaps more important they learn to trust one another because the stands are filled with many folks who believe no man of color belongs in major league baseball and are willing to do something to cleanse the game including killing Jackie.
This is no DOUBLE PLAY as Robert B. Parker instead hits a grand slam home run with this tremendous look back to an era that seems like ancient history with all the accomplishment minorities have made in professional sports though under six decades ago. Jackie is portrayed as a proud individual who lets his on field performance speak for itself (think of the pressure on him) while restraining any acrimony towards those who label him with profanities. Burke is a wonderful counterpoint who sees how delightful a person Jackie truly is and willingly would die to keep his new friend safe. Mr. Parker hits all the bases with this game winner.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner