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Kiowa County Signal - Kiowa County, KS
  • Off The Deep End: '42' goes inside Robinson's fight to play in Major Leagues

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  • If you're a baseball or sports fan, you probably know the historical meaning "42" has in the athletic world: Jackie Robinson's uniform number and the beginning of the integration of baseball.
    That number also is the title of a movie coming out Friday at The Village 8 and other theaters throughout the country that depicts Robinson's life and struggles from when the player (played by Chadwick Boseman) was courted by Brooklyn Dodgers' owner Branch Rickey (played by an almost unrecognizable Harrison Ford, at least I didn't recognize him if I hadn't seen the credits) to the day the Dodgers claimed the 1947 National League pennant.
    Robinson works hard in the 1946 spring training despite having to deal with the "Jim Crow" laws in Florida he had to face -- including one incident on the field that didn't involve the opposing team -- until his first at-bat of the regular season for the Royals. The story skips to the birth of his son and his preparing to go to the 1947 spring training, which was moved to Panama amid unrest from some of his future teammates.
    The rest of the story covers his first season with the Dodgers that have been mentioned time and time again in earlier movies and biographies, but in more detail. It also talks about being accepted by players like Eddie Stanky, Pee Wee Reese and Ralph Branca; and slowly accepted by most of the team because they were winning with him. Case in point, not all of his teammates accept Robinson in the end before the credits.
    In that regard, the movie is more biographical then anything else.
    What is different involves the showing of frustrations Robinson has to endure to hold himself not to fight back in spring training or his time with the Dodgers from all the taunting he faces; which is what any person, no matter the color of his skin, would be prone to do.
    Boseman shows that anger in one scene when a manager of an opposing team calls Robinson every derogatory name ever heard against African-Americans and the player is ready to explode. Robinson thinks about fighting the opposing manager, but instead breaks his bat when he goes into the tunnel and lets out his anger against the walls.
    It is probably one of the best scenes of the movie when Rickey (Ford) comes in and tries to calm down Robinson, only to admit he doesn't know how his player feels about the taunts because he never had to face them.
    That's just one example of the heart-to-hearts Robinson and Rickey have throughout the movie. The other heart-to-hearts are between Robinson with his wife Rachel (played by Nicole Beharie). Rachel lets her husband talk about how he feels and is always encouraging, even at times when she is surrounded by "bigots" trying to demoralize Robinson.
    Page 2 of 2 - There are a number of derogatory words in the movie as it tries to stay true to the story. If you can get around that, then I suggest you see "42" not only as a baseball movie, but a movie involving a person who perserveres and succeeds overcoming more things that most can be thrown at us.
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