I had the opportunity to watch the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson, who was the first black baseball player in the Major Leagues. I normally avoid progressive films, and there is a fine line between progressive propaganda with a political agenda and genuinely good stories, which is what 42 was. The film is one that needed to be made and while watching provoked many thoughts that deserve comment.
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was an American baseball player who became the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947. As the first major league team to play a black man since the 1880s, the Dodgers ended racial segregation that had relegated black players to the Negro leagues for six decades. The example of Robinson’s character and unquestionable talent challenged the traditional basis of segregation, which then marked many other aspects of American life, and contributed significantly to the Civil Rights Movement.
In the film Harrison Ford played Branch Rickey wonderfully which I thought was a heroic story in and of itself. I loved Ford’s role and portrayal and found myself wishing that more people in the world were like Branch Rickey.
Wesley Branch Rickey (December 20, 1881 – December 9, 1965) was an innovative Major League Baseball (MLB) executive elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967. He was perhaps best known for breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing African-American player Jackie Robinson, for drafting the first Afro-Hispanic superstar, Roberto Clemente, for creating the framework for the modern minor league farm system, for encouraging the Major Leagues to add new teams through his involvement in the proposed Continental League, and for introducing the batting helmet.
Rickey played in MLB for the St. Louis Browns and New York Highlanders from 1905 through 1907. After struggling as a player, Rickey returned to college, where he learned about administration from Philip Bartelme. Returning to MLB in 1913, Rickey embarked on a successful managing and executive career with the St. Louis Browns, the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals elected him to their team Hall of Fame in 2014.
Rickey also had a career in the sport of American football, as a player for the professional Shelby Blues and as a coach at Ohio Wesleyan University and Allegheny College. His many achievements and deep Christian faith earned him the nickname “the Mahātmā.”
I found it interesting that Rickey is yet another innovative celebrity from Ohio and in the film the scenes that took place with the Cincinnati Reds at the old Crosely Field were stunning. It was a reminder again of how much Cincinnati and specifically Ohio helped shape the nature of America. I enjoy baseball, and love the role Crosely Field played in the early days of Cincinnati’s development, so it was fun to see Crosely Field alive in the film 42. To learn more about Crosely Field, click the link below for a complete history and lots of photographs.
Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey were noble men from an era that I desperately love. I would never support racism, and respected Robinson’s crusade. I have been friends with many black men over my life, and my experience has been similar to the kind of people Robinson was. I respected their politeness, their manly swagger, and their deep commitment to goodness. Goodness does not know color and clearly, especially after watching Jackie Robinson’s story in 42, as a baseball player he wanted to do “good” and the world is far better off for it.
However, the premise of racism as it is today is to allow bad behavior to go unchecked because of skin color, and this is not right. Jackie Robinson if he were alive today would likely condemn rappers like Jay-Z and Snoop Dog for taking the very things he fought for as a black man and squandering them away using the color of their skin to be detrimental paradoxes of oblivious conduct. Robinson was careful to always present himself as a gentleman to the public and he ultimately won the battle against racism by capturing the high moral ground of the public. Yet against his memory looters, scum bags and social malcontents want moral judgment against their bad behavior obliterated behind a mask of racism. After watching 42 I came away feeling that Robinson loved his wife, loved his children, loved his teams, was honorable and appreciative of Branch Rickey and was a gentleman in every way to the press. That is the kind of person all Americans regardless of skin color should try to emulate.
Yet too many people of color today wish to hide their poor life choices from judgment by conjuring up memories of the kind of racism that Jackie Robinson dealt with—which is an injustice that is not forgivable. For the welfare mothers abusing the system to get free money from the government with out-of-wedlock children, they are disgracing the good work that Jackie Robinson conducted. To the dope smoking gangstas’ from the inner cities—Robinson didn’t fight so hard and put up with so much to have low moral values hide behind the race card. Or to the man who romps around the African-American communities like a bee to flowers impregnating as many women as possible without any sense of responsibility, Robinson did not fight so that you could be such a loser.
I loved the scene in 42 where the little African-American kid chased the train until it was out of sight because Robinson was on it. Jackie Robinson was the boy’s idol. Young people need those kinds of idols, and it doesn’t matter the skin color, it is the conduct of those people who can set the pace of young people forever and give them something to live up to. All Snoop Dog and Jay-Z are doing is justifying why people should stay down and shoot low—and if anybody questions them on their poor lives—call them racists.
42, the movie gave me hope for Hollywood. I loved the movie and will see it again. It was a very patriotic film which deserves its place in history. I’m glad it was made and I’m glad I took the time to watch it. It is my hope that other films like it will be made in the future. Because in such stories are the story of all of us who call ourselves Americans—and no place else in the world are such things done as they are in The United States—even in our games of leisure and evenings of entertainment—of which baseball has a long tradition.
Rich Hoffman www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com