Saturday, November 23, 2013


Today, I watched "42", a movie about Jackie Robinson.  Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play baseball in the major leagues.  This film about his life, released in April, is well-made and moving.

For the first six decades of baseball's history, the sport was segregated: blacks were not allowed to play in the major leagues.  In 1947, Jackie Robinson was hired to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in a surprise move by Branch Rickey (portrayed by Harrison Ford in the film). 

Robinson's debut was rough: at first, his fellow-teammates tried to keep him off the team and signed a petition against him.  Later, during the season, Robinson was thrown at by pitchers (he was hit more often than any other player) and he was repeatedly and brutally taunted by opponents and fans.  One man, the manager of the Phillies, became infamous for openly and viciously abusing Robinson on the playing field. 

With great restraint, Robinson refused to combat those assaults.  That was the smartest thing he could do.  Any retaliation would have been harshly criticized and would have jeopardized his (and future black players') participation in the sport.  Robinson's mere presence on the field was inflammatory to many people.  They needed little excuse to shout for his ouster.  Robinson gave them none.

Bigotry is ugly.  It combines ignorance with stupidity -- and I use those words in their technical, not pejorative sense.  Ignorance is not knowing something; stupidity is not caring about the limit of your knowledge.  People are wrong to judge others by projecting traits they believe belong to a racial, religious or gender group.  We are individuals.

Confronting and overcoming prejudice is hard.  This movie explores how it was done in baseball.  Moving society from one attitude to another generates some friction.  A sport closely studied by a large part of the population, baseball was influential in affecting popular opinion on race.  Many historians cite the integration of baseball as one of the beginnings of the modern civil rights movement.

To its credit, Major League Baseball has honored Jackie Robinson's exceptional courage and skill.  In addition to inducting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame, MLB permanently retired his number (42).  Now, every April, there's a baseball game where every player wears number 42 in tribute to Jackie Robinson.

Do you know about Jackie Robinson?  Whether you do or don't, I strongly recommend seeing this movie.  The history it depicts is important and continues to affect our lives today.


  1. WOW!!!! Your review makes me want to go and find the movie ~Just reading about the abuse he suffered had me in tears. I LOVE baseball (although it is not a big sport in South Africa) and I watch any movie to do with it ... Thanks for the heads up sweet friend ... I will let you know when I get to watch it.

  2. You'll enjoy the movie. In addition to what I mention above, the film shows Jackie's loving relationship with his supportive wife. And it uses many actors whom you'll recognize from TV shows (like T.R. Knight ["Gray's Anatomy"], Christopher Meloni ["Law & Order: SVU"], Alan Tudyk ["Suburgatory"], Hamish Linklater ["The New Adventures of Old Christine"] and John C. McGinley ["Scrubs"]).

  3. There are so many great children's books about Jackie Robinson. I've read them to my students.

  4. Thanks for leaving such a darling comment on my blog!
    It's amazing how dedicated to this sports he was, otherwise he could have never been that determined!

    Have a great day,

  5. I haven't heard about this movie before. It reminds me in some ways of The Butler which I saw in the cinema about a week ago. That movie shocked me and was hard to watch at times. I couldn't believe what I was watching- the extent of the racial prejudice. It made me really upset but I'm pleased I saw it at the same time.

  6. In fact it was the Canadian team that signed him first in 1946.

    "Baseball was a White man's game for 100 years. That changed forever in 1946 when the Montreal Royals signed Jackie Robinson, the first professional Black baseball player in the major leagues.

    The Royals, of the International League, was the AAA farm team of the Brooklyn Dodgers. President and owner of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, chose Montreal as the test site for the bold move, saying that he thought of Robinson as a ball player first and that it was a point of fairness."

    You can read more about it here,


  7. I don't know much about Jackie R. I remember seeing the trailer for it though. I don't think I will ever be able to understand bigotry. I see it a lot where I live, unfortunately. I thought/hoped being in CA I wouldn't see much of it, but I do. It seems a long road coming, but I can only hope that with today's efforts, bigotry will some day be a thing of the past.

  8. don´t know jackie robinson or about baseball at all.
    here in germany is soccer the big thing and lately there are more and more african, south american or asian players. but the hardcore soccer fans tend to be neofashists. mostly in ex-east germany. they throw bangers and other things on the player and shout insults. in the year 2013. and the public dismisses it as folklore.

    1. I follow soccer and am disheartened to see similar prejudice there.

  9. Here in Italy we know little about baseball but sadly we know about bigotry. I hate it, it comes from ignorance and stupidity, I couldn't agree more ! Hugs

  10. I had never heard of him - i like to watch biographical movies with a message.