In my sports writing class, we got to watch the movie “42”. The film tells the story of Jackie Robinson. With the influence of Branch Rickey, team executive, Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers to make him the first ever professional, African-American baseball player.
From the beginning of his professional career. The movie focuses on Robinson’s 1947 season and how he was able to break the baseball color barrier.
After Robinson advanced from the franchise farm team he was made an official Dodgers. Soon after most of the team signed a petition stating that they refused to play with him. However, Manager at the time Leo Durocher backs Robinson. During a game, the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Ben Chapman taunted Robinson. Chapman’s behavior toward Robinson resulted in negative coverage for the Phillies. The owner of the team then required the manager to apologize and be pictured with Robinson.
After the Dodgers made it to the World Series, only to lose in seven games to the Yankees; the movie concludes. Robinson, Rickey, and many of his teammates were given a moment at the end of the movie to give an update on where they ended up.
It described how they went on to have successful careers, including inductions into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It also talks about what African-American players Robinson paved the way for in the Major League.
After the incident Pee Wee Reese, Robinson’s teammate, learns from personal experience the extreme actions taken toward Robinson. Standing with his arm around Robinson’s shoulder, Reese gave a hostile Cincinnati crowd a psychical statement of where he stands in terms of the color barrier in baseball.
This movie got me thinking of the color barrier experienced in baseball. Jackie Robinson was the first one in baseball. His legacy is the inspiration he gives to athletes and people of all colors. His groundbreaking entry into the major leagues, seven years before the US Supreme Court’s ruling on Brown vs. Board of Education, stands as a brilliant symbol of America’s struggle with racism and the hope of racial harmony.
Jackie might have paved the way but the path with still muddy for some to follow. African-American players from the start received backlash on their appearance in the baseball major leagues. Each player’s experience varied but yet they all received resistance.
However, Robinson being the first one across the line, he became a legend in the game of baseball. In honor of him, his Dodgers’ number 42 is the only number retired in all of baseball. Every opening day every player in the major league dons the number 42. How amazing it is to see how far the baseball world has come.
After Robinson every African-American player that followed was a “first African-American” something in the world of major league baseball. Now every player of every race celebrates his fearlessness in face of adversity. Not only was Jackie Robinson an African-American, Jackie Robinson was a great baseball player, period.