In honor of Major League Baseball’s celebration of Jackie Robinson yesterday, and in memory of Chadwick Boseman, who passed away yesterday and who had played Robinson in the movie 42, here’s a short piece I found about Robinson and his role in baseball and in society.
He never asked to be a hero
For him, playing ball would be just fine
Potentially his chance was less than zero
To overcome that black-white racist line
Unlike Duke, Dimag and Mickey
Jackie entered through back doors
The stage was set by Mr. Rickey
For Robinson to fight that Civil War
Sports, they say, mirrors society
So, they should have hung their heads in shame
For what was then America’s propriety
Brought prejudice to every game
The Brooklyn Bums, at long last, found salvation
When Robinson’s talents were revealed
With the awesome double-play combination
Reese and Jackie brought to Ebbetts Field
Stealing fan’s hearts with baseball fire
Displaying skills in every way
Robinson played with such desire
Stealing bases most every day
They could never expect from him the expected
He turned the most racist hate to love
And finally he was most respected
Respect that came from more than bat and glove
For Jackie, baseball was more than just a game
He opened doors for Campy, Mays and others
Number 42, now in the Hall of Fame
Proved men of all colors could play in life as brothers
He never asked to be a hero!
Yesterday was Jackie Robinson Day, the sixty-sixth anniversary of Robinson’s Major League debut. To celebrate and recognize Robinson’s impact on baseball and on the nation as a whole, his number 42 was worn on jerseys throughout baseball, a number that had been retired throughout the MLB in 1997 by Commissioner Bud Selig.
With the release of the movie “42” this past weekend, Jackie Robinson Day has received a significantly greater amount of attention this year. At Dodger Stadium yesterday, Harrison Ford, who played Branch Rickey in “42,” threw out the ceremonial first pitch. (For those who don’t know, Branch Rickey was the general manager that provided Robinson with the opportunity to join the Dodgers in the 1940s.) Former Brooklyn Dodgers ball boy, Norman Berman, threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Miami.
The movie itself proved to be a hit at the box office. Drawing in over $27 million over the weekend, “42” has possibly established itself as the most successful baseball movie ever. This proved to be the most successful opening weekend for a baseball movie ever, and it was definitely the most successful movie overall for the weekend. The timing of the movie’s release no doubt aided its success, with the start of baseball season still fresh in the minds of fans and, of course, yesterday being Robinson’s holiday. Predictions have been floating around that the flick could wind up making around $100 million.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to watch the film this weekend with my dad, and I highly recommend it. If you like baseball, history, civil rights, sports in general, or even business, this movie is worth watching. If all you want is an entertaining drama, this movie does that too. Virtually everybody can derive some kind of enjoyment from this movie. It is being applauded for its accuracy in the retelling of Jackie Robinson’s early experiences. It’s not perfect, of course, but no historical film ever is. We get introduced to Chadwick Boseman, who plays a compelling Jackie Robinson, and we also get the pleasure of seeing Han Solo/Indiana Jones star as the man who made it all happen.
But don’t take my word for it. Go see the movie for yourself! You won’t be disappointed. And if you missed out on the opportunity to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day yesterday, you can still have your chance today, as those Major League Baseball teams that did not play yesterday will be sporting the number 42 today.
In case you hadn’t heard, a movie chronicling the life story of the great Jackie Robinson comes out two weeks from today. It looks promising. Check out the trailer!