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June 01, 2010

30 Days of Dads: Brad Meltzer, "The Real Jackie Robinson"

Y'know what? Screw Father's Day. We here at DadCentric have decided that June is Father's MONTH. As promised, we're bringing in a slew of Special Guest Dads this month - every weekday, we'll feature a guest contributor. Some of these guys you may know, some you may have never heard of, but all of them have something to say about modern fatherhood.We tend to be nihilistic 'round these parts - after all, if you're a forward-thinking dad in 2010, you have little use for preconceptions - so we gave our guest dads free reign to write about whatever's on their mind. 

We're thrilled to have New York Times best-selling author Brad Meltzer as our lead-off man. We recently reviewed Brad's latest book, Heroes For My Son, and he was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to send along this piece. Here he writes about how his book was received by a very special reader.

The Real Jackie Robinson

I almost crapped my pants. Since the night my son was born eight years ago, I've been writing a book that would last his entire life. The result -- Heroes For My Son -- is a collection of some of the greatest heroes throughout history: Mr. Rogers, to Rosa Parks, to Eleanor Roosevelt to baseball legend Jackie Robinson. But one of my greatest thrills was when I came face-to-face with Jackie Robinson's daughter. I spotted her at a literacy fundraiser, and within minutes, Sharon Robinson was reading the entry I had written about her Dad. I should've been excited. I wasn't. I was terrified. 

Think about it, tough guy.

To me, Jackie Robinson is a hero with a lesson I want to pass to my boy. But to Sharon, this was her father. All I could think was, "What if she hates it? What if I got it wrong? What if this isn't what he's like at all?" For one of the longest minutes of my life, Robinson read the one-page vignette about how her dad preferred silence, talking loud with no words at all. And then, just like her dad, Sharon pointed at the page and whispered, "That's him."

Oh, man, I love when it gets all mushy. I heaved a huge sigh of relief and knew that I captured my hero just right.

But y'know what the best part was? When I shared the story of meeting Sharon and her reading my story and giving me the thumbs up with my own father, a loud true Brooklynite. My Dad has read eight books in his life (the eight that I've written) and, while he's proud of me, publishing books is not something that astounds him. But this was Jackie Robinson, a hero of mine and of his. I'd never seen my pop so proud.

Meltzer

Brad, his oldest son, and his dad 



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