Books And More

A Special Friendship

A new book tells the true story of the friendship between a young boy and baseball legend Jackie Robinson

January 20, 2016
DON HEINY FOR TIME FOR KIDS; JOHN VECCHIOLLA

 

Most people know Jackie Robinson as the first African American to play baseball in the major leagues. In the 1940s, a boy named Stephen Satlow got to know Robinson as both a neighbor and a friend. That friendship is the basis for the new novel, The Hero Two Doors Down. It was written by Robinson’s daughter, Sharon Robinson. She tells the story from Satlow’s perspective. Robinson chatted with TFK about her new book and her famous father.

TFK:

Why did you want to write this book?

SHARON ROBINSON:

I have worked for Major League Baseball for the last 20 years and I have watched the reactions of thousands of kids when they met their favorite players. It brought me back to Steve Satlow’s story when he met my dad. I wanted to share that experience.

TFK:

Did you grow up in the neighborhood where the story takes place? 

ROBINSON:

No. By the time I was born in 1950, my parents had moved to Queens. But the period when my parents lived in Brooklyn was very important to my family. We had a lot of friends we would visit there. We saw the Satlows throughout my childhood, and we are still close family friends. When we would get together, around the holidays, we would tell stories about when they all lived in Brooklyn.

TFK:

Did Stephen share a lot of his memories with you to help you write this story?

ROBINSON:

There are certainly lots of things that are fictional, but there are some key moments that are based on facts. I have known Steve for all these years, but I never really thought about what Brooklyn was like and what his childhood was like. After interviewing Steve in a more formal way, I knew this was his story. That’s why I wanted to tell it from his perspective.

TFK:

What was it like growing up as the daughter of Jackie Robinson?

ROBINSON:

My parents worked very hard to make our home life as normal as possible. We lived in a more country environment then, and it was very private. But we also knew that we were very public. We knew that when we went out, people were going to come up and ask my dad for his autograph. My dad talked a lot to us about what was happening in the civil rights movement. Those conversations were very important to my brother and me, and shaped our lives and our commitment to others.

TFK:

What are some lessons you learned from your dad?

ROBINSON:

He taught us to have courage and perseverance. I watched how my parents lived and how they handled struggles, both personal and nationwide. My dad was a compassionate and caring person. He was never angry. He dedicated much of his time and energy to help achieve social justice in this country.


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