Jackie Robinson’s legacy is well known in the baseball world, and “42” is an attempt to spread the legacy to those who do not know his story.
Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball on April 15, 1947, when he played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
He endured hatred, name calling and death threats from fans, players of opposing teams and even his teammates. Despite the harassment he suffered, he did not fight back.
He kept his composure, and did his damage on the field. He won the first Rookie of the Year in 1947 with a .297 batting average, 12 homeruns and 29 stolen bases, and Robinson helped the Dodgers reach the World Series. The award now bears his name.
The film “42,” directed by Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”), tells the story of Robinson’s days in the Negro Leagues until the end of his rookie season.
While many baseball historians and writers have said that some of the scenes were historically inaccurate and would never have happened, for a movie or casual baseball fan it succeeds in telling Robinson’s story.
The attention to detail in “42” is what makes it so effective. From the stadiums, to the uniforms, to the mitts, they all helped take the viewer back to the ‘40s.
CGI was used to recreate the front of Ebbits Field, the stadium for the Dodgers, but it did not look overdone. The old style scoreboards, where the numbers had to be changed manually, looked perfect.
But what really made the film stand out was the acting of Chadwick Boseman, who plays Robinson, and Harrison Ford, who plays Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey.
Boseman’s performance helps the viewer feel the emotions Robinson must have felt. From his voice to his acting, he resembles Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, so expect bigger things to come from him in the future.
Ford delivers as movie goers would expect him to: fantastically. He was effortless and adapted to the character with ease as he portrayed the stubborn Rickey; who despite death threats and alienating himself from all other general managers, drafted Robinson. He knew that integration was not only the future of baseball but also of America.
But what Rickey and Robinson could have never predicted is for how long and how many people their actions would be influential.
In one of the scenes, Dodger teammate Pee Wee Reese, played by Lucas Black, put his arm around Robinson and told him, “Maybe one day we’ll all wear 42. Then they won’t be able to tell us apart,” and that is exactly what happened.
The number 42 was officially retired from baseball in 1997, and every April 15 all Major League players wear 42 so that no one can tell them apart.
Elsie Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.