Not an Easy Tale to Tell: Jackie Robinson on the Page, Stage, and Screen, edited by Ralph Carhart

SABR Digital Library: Not an Easy Tale to Tell: Jackie Robinson on the Page, Stage, and Screen

Not an Easy Tale to Tell: Jackie Robinson on the Page, Stage, and Screen, edited by Ralph CarhartAdd a new baseball book to your collection from the SABR Digital Library:

Not an Easy Tale to Tell: Jackie Robinson on the Page, Stage, and Screen
Edited by Ralph Carhart
Associate editors Bill Nowlin, Carl Riechers, and Kate Nachman
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-970159-71-4, $6.99
ISBN (paperback): 978-1-970159-72-1, $19.95
8.5″ x 11″, 128 pages

Few athletes have sparked the creative imaginations of artists more than Jackie Robinson. His presence can be seen in cinema, on television and on stages, big and small; even tucked within the pages of written fiction. As we approach the seventy-fifth anniversary of Robinson’s integration of the Dodgers, he continues to inspire, including a recent appearance in the premiere episode of HBO’s groundbreaking Lovecraft Country.

Robinson’s tale serves as such ripe material for creatives because of how singular and inspiring it is. Over time, those creative representations have shaped the story of Jackie Robinson, taking him beyond his true, complicated personhood and elevating him to an inspirational symbol. The only other American athlete to ascend to the level of folklore is Babe Ruth, a son of immigrants whose “rags to riches” journey resonated with the hopes of early twentieth century Americans. Robinson’s tale, by contrast, embodies American society’s post-war aspirations for itself and the conflicts that would shape it, including the fight for civil rights and roles that education, athletics, the military, and professional sports played in racial integration.

Not an Easy Tale to Tell looks at the stories behind the stories that have shaped the way we think about Jackie Robinson. Not only does it separate the fact from fiction, but it looks at why that fiction was created. It also posits the idea that sometimes the fiction is just as important. Contributors to this volume examine Robinson’s portrayals in Hollywood movies, children’s books, musicals and plays, and documentaries.

Artists keep returning to Robinson because he is one of the most inspirational figures of the twentieth century not in spite of, but because of his complexities. He did more than change the game of baseball—he changed America. By doing so, he inspired multiple generations of artists to look to him to help them tell their stories. In utilizing Robinson as a symbol, they invariably highlight, time and again, how his actual story is not an easy tale to tell.

Contributors include: Adam Berenbak, Milbert O. Brown Jr., Steve Butts, Ralph Carhart, Ray Danner, Bryan Dietzler, Raymond Doswell, Peter Dreier, Pat Ellington Jr., Sharon Hamilton, Tom Hawthorn, Leslie Heaphy, Tom Lee, Luisa Lyons, Adam C. MacKinnon, Nick Malian, Kate Nachman, Joshua Neuman, Bill Nowlin, Zac Petrillo, Carl Riechers, and Benjamin Sabin.


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About the SABR Digital Library

For more than 40 years, SABR and its members have led the way in publishing the best baseball historical and statistical research. Our publications program is shifting to take advantage of new methods of publishing. Not only will we continue to publish new books like Can He Play? A Look At Baseball Scouts and Their Profession (2011); Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (2013); Scandal on the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox (2015); Au jeu/Play Ball: The 50 Greatest Games in the History of the Montreal Expos (2016); The Pride of Smoketown: The 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords (2020); and Jackie Robinson: Perspectives on 42 (2021), which showcase the best efforts of SABR’s members, chapters and committees, but new technology makes it possible for us to bring out-of-print titles like The Fenway Project (2013); Go-Go to Glory: The 1959 Chicago White Sox (2019); and Green Cathedrals (2020) back again.

Visit to find all past titles and download your favorites. Books will be available in digital formats as well as paperbacks produced by “print on demand” (POD).

SABR members can download all Digital Library e-book editions for free and save 50% on purchase of the paperback editions. If you’re not a member, click here to join SABR.

Stay tuned throughout the year for new (and old!) titles that we’ll be adding to the SABR Digital Library. To learn more about SABR Publications, contact Publications Editor Cecilia Tan at


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Originally published: April 12, 2022. Last Updated: April 12, 2022.