Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training By Chris Lamb University of Nebraska Press; $15 An unsparing condemnation of mainstream press in its role as perpetuators of baseball’s segregation and bigotry, according to the 1947 Hutchins Report of 1930s and 1940s sportswriters. In 226 pages we experience the back story that journalist and media professor Chris Lamb gleaned from the black and U.S. Communist newspapers in their pursuit of both this nation’s, and Major League Baseball’s, shameful treatment of blacks throughout WWII and during its aftermath. Mainstream newspapers’ resounding silence in the face of lynching of black veterans, stiffened Jim Crow laws and lack of opportunities for African-Americans kept most people uninformed. In covering the Robinson story, it was only after the opening of the 1946 International League season on April 18, in Jersey City, N.J., when they no longer could justify their dismissal of him as a kind of dancing dog did sportswriters pay attention to Robinson as a ballplayer. Yet they continued to dismiss him as a human being. “The story of the integration of baseball began not in 1947 but in 1946. There has never been a more important six weeks in baseball history than the Dodgers’ spring training in 1946,” Lamb states. He supports this seeming hyperbole with solid scholarship presented in highly readable sports prose. Are those six weeks a metaphor of what it takes to fly in the face of bigotry, to sacrifice oneself for the greater good? The heroes, villains and bystanders roll off the pages in memorable procession. Sixty years later, the record stands: Jackie Robinson is an inspiration despite the then-prevalent contention that he couldn’t possible have the ability to withstand the pressure and help the Dodgers win.