Published on Thursday, May 16, 2013 by Justin Sanders
42: the only retired number across the league in baseball belongs to a man who changed the entire game and sports in general. A man who had a love for the game, and became the first African-American in the major leagues. Though it wasn’t easy, Jackie Robinson was a hero, not only for his performance, but for breaking down a race barrier that existed in America since the first pitch was thrown.
The movie, which gets its namesake, “42”, from Robinson’s number, follows the life of this remarkable player during his fight to make it to the major leagues.
Jackie’s wife, Rachel, is isolated from the other wives of the team along with Wendel Smith, a sports writer at all of the baseball games. Through all of the games the African-Americans are segregated from the whites showing the inequalities of the era. Since our generation never saw the effects of segregation, this movie allowed for insight into America 70 years ago.
Robinson’s first step to the big leagues is when he gets signed to the Montreal Royals during the 1946 season. Jackie catches the eye of the Brooklyn Dodgers manager who is adamant about him playing for his team the following year. With his minor league success, Robinson is promoted to the Brooklyn Dodgers during spring training.
A select few of the Dodgers draft a petition to refuse to play on the same field as Jackie, and when Leo Durocher, the Dodgers manager, hears about this, he insists that he will play not because he is trying to bring about change but because of the talent he posses.
In his first Major League baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Coach Ben Chapman constantly yelled racial slurs at Jackie each time he went up to bat. Eventually, Jackie cannot take it anymore and retreats to the dugout, smashing his bat in anger.
After a motivational conversation with the new coach of the Dodgers, Branch Rickey, he tells him that you have to push through this not just for yourself but for all of those children wanting to follow in your footsteps.
Robinson’s triumph came when he hit a homerun against the Pittsburgh Pirates and secures the pennant for the Dodgers, sending them to the World Series.
The actors knew the story of Jackie Robinson well and portrayed the hardships of not only what he went through but the hard times brought on due to racial reasons. Nowadays, we never see segregation to such a severe degree, the movie showed just what minorities went through and just how racist the south was. Racism was intertwined with the movie, at the hotels, service stations and on the field the team would get racial slurs thrown at them left and right.
In the movie it shows Robinson breaking his bat in the dugout and though it is not proven that this occurred it signifies his desire and the amount of stress he was under when breaking down a barrier.
The movie portrays the emotions and struggles of one of the most influential and talented baseball players ever known. He was not just fighting for himself, but he was fighting for a new era of baseball in which color did not decide whether a person played or not. 42 goes down as one of the best baseball movies of all time and gives insight into Jackie Robinson life and trail to breaking down racial barriers.