Skip to main content

User login

Jackie Robinson: A Hero on the Field and on the Big Screen

May 10, 2013 by admin

By John Sorce

     “42” is a must-see for any sports fan or history fan. It shows how instrumental Jackie Robinson was to American history. His breaking of the color barrier in baseball was a big step to the civil rights movement and ultimately the integration of America as well as allowing athletes of different races and ethnicities to play professional sports.

     Robinson starred in four sports at UCLA. He played baseball, football, basketball and track, becoming the first student-athlete to play four sports in the school’s history. Robinson dropped out of college in the spring semester of his senior year and decided to enlist in the Army, where he served for two years. Jackie joined the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League in 1945, where he played one season.

     Brooklyn Dodgers president and general manager Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) wanted to bring over someone from the Negro League. Rickey stated that he wanted to put the best team on the field to win a championship, regardless of what race his players were. Rickey decided that he wanted Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) of the Kansas City Monarchs.

     Robinson met with Rickey in Brooklyn and agreed to sign a contract to join the Dodgers organization. Robinson promised Rickey that he would “have the guts not to fight back” to anything that was about to come his way as the only African-American in professional baseball.

     Robinson spent the 1946 season with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers AAA minor league affiliate. The Dodgers had spring training in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Robinson reported here to meet up with the team.

     During one game while Montreal was on the road, an officer informed Robinson that he needed to get off of the field because they do not allow blacks on the same field as whites in their town. Royals manager Clay Hooper (Brett Cullen) came out to protect Robinson and argue with the officer himself. Robinson walked off the field and exited the game to avoid any trouble. At first, Hoover did not want Robinson on his team, but Jackie’s athletic ability won him and his teammates over.

     Robinson was promoted to the Dodgers in 1947. Dixie Walker (Ryan Merriman,) who was the Dodgers’ right fielder, requested to Rickey that he be traded as he did not want to play with Robinson. However, he, like many of Robinson’s teammates, came to respect Jackie as a teammate and person.

     Later that season, they had a series against the Philadelphia Phillies, who were managed by Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk.) Chapman would stand out in front of the Phillies dugout and scream racial slurs at Robinson whenever he would come up to bat. He even directed his pitchers to intentionally hit Robinson whenever he had a 3-0 count rather than walking him. 

     Robinson felt anger when this occurred and after one at bat, he went into the tunnel in the Dodgers’ dugout and swung his bat against the wall until it split in two. Branch Rickey then came into the tunnel and told Robinson that this is exactly what he cannot let happen; he needs to keep all of his emotions inside of him and just play baseball. Robinson cooled down and finished the game.

     The Phillies owner brought Chapman into his office and told him that what he did back in Brooklyn made the entire team and city look bad and he had to take a picture with Robinson to show everybody that all was well between the two.

     Robinson was named the 1947 National League Rookie of the Year and finished fifth in the NL MVP voting. He batted .297 with 74 walks and led baseball with 29 stolen bases. 

     He was a six-time all-star, making the team every year from 1949-1954 and won the NL MVP in 1949. He won the batting title in 1949, leading baseball with a .342 average and again led the league in stolen bases with 37. He also drew 86 walks, drove in 124 runs and scored 122 runs.

     He finished his ten-year career, all with the Dodgers, with a .311 average, 137 homeruns, 734 RBI, 197 stolen bases, 947 runs scored, and had an incredible 740-291 walk to strikeout ratio. He was elected into the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1962, his first year on the ballot.

     Robinson is a true hero in American history, and every April 15th is known as Jackie Robinson day, when every player wears number 42 in his honor. He served his country in the Army and represented every African-American who played the game, while having to handle an unimaginable mountain of adversity both on and off baseball field. Thank you Jackie.

Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes