It was long overdue. The story of Jackie Robinson, the man who integrated baseball in 1947, changed sports and America forever, and had the backing of crusty Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey along the way. But as they say, better late than never. And it was indeed a late home run in extra innings in the theatre.Director Brian Helgeland did a masterful job of storytelling. The journey of Robinson through the Negro Leagues. The plan by Branch Rickey and baseball minds in choosing Robinson over so many other great back ballplayers because of his determination, leadership, athletic ability (UCLA) and military service.
While Chadwick Boseman did a masterful job playing Robinson and showing all of his baseball and personal characteristics, the star of this movie was Harrison Ford playing Branch Rickey. Ford played every bit the stubborn general manager of the storied Dodgers. The baseball man. The person. The thinker. The innovator. The look. The determination to make history. Ford truly hit a grand slam.
Two other A+ notes on “42.” Great shots of Ebbets Field and the old South in America as well. Secondly, this movie wasn’t overly done in terms of Hollywood making things up to drive up viewers. The facts were there. The scenes were also dead-on (an example being Pee Wee Reese showing support on the field for Robinson in front of a packed baseball park in Pittsburgh).
The only disappointing thing in the movie, however, was at the end. When they showed quick facts about Robinson, Dodger teammates, Rickey and today’s Major League Baseball honoring Robinson annually, it would have been a nice touch to honor Larry Doby, the first black ballplayer in the American League, as well as those black players who entered baseball shortly after Robinson entered the big leagues.
“42″ was simply powerful. Just like the man it told the story about.
By: Mike Lindsley, “Mid-Day with Mike,” 1-4, Yankees pre/post game host on 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @MikeLSports.