Fox News correspondent sets aside politics to talk baseball and God

Author Ed Henry to return to Rehoboth Beach Sept. 3
August 17, 2017

A steady flow of curious visitors popped their heads into Browseabout Books Sunday morning to chat with friendly FOX News correspondent Ed Henry and to grab a signed copy of his new book, "42 Faith: The Rest of the Jackie Robinson Story."

Henry, a lifelong Yankees fanatic from Astoria, Queens, seemed to enjoy the kind-hearted baseball trivia sparring that occurred as people probed his knowledge of the game with increasingly obscure facts and statistics.

"People around here are passionate about their politics and their baseball," said Henry.

Henry wasn't there to peddle politics or push any partisan agenda. He said, "I think now more than ever, when there's so much division in the country, particularly over politics, what better story than Jackie Robinson - a man who brought so many people together?

"This is a book about how I think Jackie's faith in God was the secret ingredient that helped him overcome discrimination," said Henry.

Henry first began thinking about writing the book in 2007. He was trying to leave a stuffy Washington, D.C. dinner party early one night to catch the end of the World Series, only to be stopped by a fellow guest. The woman delivered a curious message that the journalist and the baseball fan in Henry could not resist. She told him her father-in-law had played a major role in baseball history, but the story had never been told.

This tenuous-at-best clue led Henry to discover that Jackie Robinson's manager Branch Rickey was unsure about signing Robinson. He confessed these doubts to a minister, the father-in-law of Henry's dinner companion. Henry was compelled to follow this story.

Through this previously unknown story and through previously unpublished papers in Robinson's collection at the Library of Congress, Henry learned more about how both men’s faith played a role in the story. He said, "I found that faith in god was sort of the secret ingredient that helped Rickey decide to sign Jackie, but maybe more importantly the secret ingredient that helped Jackie overcome all the discrimination," said Henry.

"You had a white man and a black man, men of different generations. Rickey was much older than Jackie. They came of age from different parts of the country. Jackie comes of age in Pasadena. Rickey grows up on a farm in Ohio on the Kentucky border. These two men could not have been more different, and yet what brought them together was two things: baseball and a deep faith in God," said Henry. He describes baseball and faith in God as two pillars of this country.

"Nobody really dove deep on how faith was what intertwined these two men, and that's what I really believe. I don't say it to proselytize, and what I respect about Jackie's faith among other things is that Jackie didn't wear it on his sleeve. So I think a lot of people didn't really know that Jackie's faith was that important to him," said Henry.

While interviewing Robinson's widow Rachel Robinson for the book, Henry learned that after playing at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn every day, the legendary baseball player used to ride the subway home to his tiny apartment in Manhattan where he would get down on his knees and pray to God.

"That detail struck with me. Here's this guy who became not just a sports hero but a civil rights icon, and yet he knew there was a higher being that he needed to strive for, reach out to, and he knew he was imperfect. And yet, even though he was imperfect, he was a pretty darn good guy who didn't just make himself famous, but he lifted up so many other people. I think that's the ultimate legacy that Jackie leaves behind, what he did for so many other people," said Henry.

Henry told another story in which he was interviewing President Obama, whom he told about his book, and that he was about to interview Rachel Robinson. Henry swore Obama gave him this message to give Robinson's widow: He sees a straight line between what Robinson did in '47 to his being the White House.

The book "42 Faith" was released April 4 at the start of the baseball season at Dodgers Stadium, where a statue of Jackie Robinson was unveiled.

Browseabout Books announced that Henry will appear for a repeat book signing event from 9 to 11 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 3.

Henry has also been invited to do a book signing at Yankee Stadium later this season.