The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson

He was a lieutenant in the Army of the United States: he saw no reason to sit in the back of the bus

ON JULY 6, 1944, Jackie Robinson, a twenty-five-year-old lieutenant, boarded an Army bus at Fort Hood, Texas. Sixteen months later he would be tapped as the man to break baseball’s color barrier, but in 1944 he was one of thousands of blacks thrust into the Jim Crow South during World War II. He was with the light-skinned wife of a fellow black officer, and the two walked half the length of the bus, then sat down, talking amiably.Read more »


On a high Vermont hill, where Robert Frost liked to summer the sound of trees, he and I talked through many afternoons, speaking, as Frost put it, “to some purpose.” He held forth on astronomy, mortality, baseball, poetry, and prose, displaying a command of phrase that I have never heard from anyone else. Frost ranged from Ben Jonson to John Lardner, bounded back to Emily Dickinson and stumbled against Ezra Pound, asserting more than once an unshakable ground rule: I was never publicly to quote him on writers or writing. When asked why, he was ready.Read more »

Crossing The Line

On April 15 Jackie Robinson started at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers in their opening-day game against the Boston Braves. In so doing, he became the first African-American to play in the major leagues since an abortive attempt at integration in 1884. Robinson’s courageous breaking of the color line would eventually have great repercussions inside baseball and out. Yet on the day of his momentous debut, fans and journalists alike were oddly blasé. Read more »