I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography

Interest LevelReading LevelReading A-ZATOSWord Count
Grades 9 - 12Grade 8n/a8.091960

The bestselling autobiography of American baseball and civil rights legend Jackie Robinson

Before Barry Bonds, before Reggie Jackson, before Hank Aaron, baseball's stars had one undeniable trait in common: they were all white. In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke that barrier, striking a crucial blow for racial equality and changing the world of sports forever. I Never Had It Made is Robinson's own candid, hard-hitting account of what it took to become the first black man in history to play in the major leagues.

I Never Had It Made recalls Robinson's early years and influences: his time at UCLA, where he became the school's first four-letter athlete; his army stint during World War II, when he challenged Jim Crow laws and narrowly escaped court martial; his years of frustration, on and off the field, with the Negro Leagues; and finally that fateful day when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers proposed what became known as the "Noble Experiment"—Robinson would step up to bat to integrate and revolutionize baseball.

More than a baseball story, I Never Had It Made also reveals the highs and lows of Robinson's life after baseball. He recounts his political aspirations and civil rights activism; his friendships with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, William Buckley, Jr., and Nelson Rockefeller; and his troubled relationship with his son, Jackie, Jr.

I Never Had It Made endures as an inspiring story of a man whose heroism extended well beyond the playing field.

Paperback, 320 pages
Published on May 6, 2003 by Ecco
ISBN-10: 0060555971
ISBN-13: 9780060555979
1 Book Review
  • atziryp09
    atziryp09almost 3 yearsFeatured
    Book Review I Never Had it Made, a memoir on famous baseball player yet history making player Jackie Robinson. This well written book takes place from 1919 to 1972 taking place across the nation following Jackie Robinson around from his childhood to his career. After reading this book, I've realized it is an amazing read because of the authors tone, his life lessons, and how informative it is about the history of baseball. Although Jackie Robinson was a very well known person he was still very genuine and thankful for what he had and those that surrounded him. Robinson states on page 6, “I remember, even as a small boy, having a lot of pride in my mother. I thought she must have some kind of magic to be able to do all the things she did, to work so hard and never complain and to make us all feel happy.” Robinson knew he couldn't take his mother for granted, he valued all her hard work. Being a single mother taking care of five children and never looking down, she never showed defeat or complained about how bad things may have been getting. Robinson tone would change when talking about his mother you could read the appreciation he had for her.Another way Robinson was able to show that he was very genuine and didn't mind not having the best of the best was on pages 39-40 when he said, “The only accomodation were in a filthy, run-down place resembling a flophouse. A roof over our heads and a chance to lie down, even in a bed of incertain sanitary condition, was better than nothing.” Once again Robinson comes to show that he is able to value where they are staying, he is grateful to even have a roof over his head and not have to sleep on the streets. He saw this even through all the wars because of color, kind people did exist and where willing to help. Throughout the book not only did Robinson come to show that he was very grateful he also was very motivating and liked to teach life lessons. The first one being on page 17 when he is talking to one of his coaches and says, “However, I pointed out that ordering me to play would not make me do my best. “You wouldn't want me playing on your team, knowing that my heart wasn't in it,” I said. They dropped the matter but I had no illusions. I would never win a popularity contest with the ranking hierarchy of the post.” I as an athlete was able to relate to this, because when I step on the field or court I expect for my players and myself to give it my all. If one isn't committed to the things they may be doing they will not do there best and in the long run it will only hurt those around because the person not trying only sees it as they got nothing to lose. Robinson was also able to show that no matter what you may be going through you can get through it, Alfred Duckett notices that and he states on page 68, “The Jackie Roosevelt Robinson might have had more obstacles than his first year competitors, and that he perhaps had a harder fight to gain even major league recognition, was no concern of this publication.” Robinson showed that no matter what struggles you may be facing, do not let them determine who you are. Do not let a day or person ruin your attitude or how you may be seen by others. At the end of the day people talk to talk, but if you let them get to you then you end of losing because you give the “haters” the attention they are looking for. Jackie Robinson and Alfred Duckett were also able to show history throughout there novel. On page 31 is states, “The truth is you are not a candidate for the Brooklyn Brown Dodgers. I’ve sent for you because I’m interested in you as a candidate for the Brooklyn National League Club. I think you can play in the major leagues.” As the reader you are able to learn that Brooklyn Brown Dodgers and Brooklyn National League Club are two completely different teams. Many people came to believe that they were the same, and although they did work together they were still two different organizations.Robinson then is able to talk about a personal story on page 116 which states, “Most of the Dodgers were complaining, but the next day I was the only one who received a telegram from Warren Giles, the president of the National League. I was fined $75 for making anti-umpire gestures in the dugout and for the things I said in the locker room.” Empires or any type of referee is seen to be unfair now a days but it's usually towards a team, while back in the day they would also be unfair to individual players as well. Robinson was fined for talking about the empires along with his team mates, but according to the empires they only heard his voice not the whole team. People see baseball as a very boring sport but its a very mental game and the moment you stop paying attention you will lose everything. I highly would recommend this memoir because not only is it very relatable, but it gives life lessons, and gives you the insight to the life of a history making Major League Baseball player. If you aren't into autobiographies/ biographies then that's when I wouldn’t recommend this book, because it does go into depth about the life of Jackie Robinson and all his struggles. But if you are a baseball fan especially a Dodger fan than I would recommend this book or just in general to any athlete to be able to show them that if you can dream it, it can happen. Never give up on your goals.