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History of Jackie Robinson Essay

The movie 42 is a fairly new non-fiction movie describing the life history of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in the Major Baseball League (MLB) in the modern era, and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers. 42 shows how hard it was in the 1940s to be a black man or woman, but Jackie Robinson and his team executive, Branch Rickey, did the unthinkable. The film 42 takes its audience on a journey through Jackie Robinson’s life as a professional baseball player and shows all of his accomplishments, along with all of his downfalls.

Jackie Robinson’s team executive from the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, put himself and Jackie Robinson to the forefront of history. When Rickey signed Robinson he made a major decision, and broke the Major Baseball League’s “color barrier”. Not only did Branch Rickey put himself and Jackie Robinson in danger, but also other baseball players. Everyone was facing bashing racism from all sides. The film 42 shows how Jackie Robinson had to demonstrate tremendous amounts of courage and restraint. If Robinson would have reacted in anyway towards all of the racism he could of destroyed Rickey’s and his own dreams. The story presented in 42 mostly focuses on Robinson’s season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and somewhat on his season with the Montreal Royals in 1946. His first season in 1946 with the Montreal Royals is where he battled a lot of racism from his audience. One scene from 42 stood out the most and was actually a hard scene to watch.

Ben Chapmen, the manager for the Philadelphia Phillies at the time, repeatedly called Jackie Robinson a “nigger” loudly while he was up to bat. Of course Robinson had to remain calm, but it was so difficult. He then went back into the dugout and ended up smashing his bat into the walls and ground venting his anger. After Branch Rickey came to calm him down and explain that no one said what Jackie was doing was going to be easy, Jackie Robinson got up to bat once again. Robinson then proves Chapmen wrong and he ends up hitting a single, then stealing second base and continuing to third base on an error, and then finally scoring the winning run. Ben Chapmen was left speechless. Later on, Ben Chapmen came to realize that what he did was very unacceptable, even under the circumstances. Although all the insiders knew Chapmen still believes what he did is okay, Chapmen decided to get a picture taken with Jackie Robinson shaking his hand to show the public and press that he was “sorry” and that everything between him and Robinson was “okay”. The press believed it and so did the public, so it actually worked. Besides the incident with Ben Chapmen, Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey were still facing major racism comments and letters from the public.

The public was not happy with the thought of an African American playing America’s favorite sport. The letters and comments were mostly horrible threats that Rickey and Robinson had to ignore because even the police would not do anything about it. Most of the policemen even agreed to what was being said! The beginning of Jackie Robinson’s career was tough, but Rickey believed in him, and his family. Not only was Jackie Robinson making baseball history, he was also starting to win over fans and teammates with his astounding skill and calm nature. Robinson’s wife, Rachel, was always on the side lines cheering him on from day one, even before the MLB was even brought up to him! She was his number one fan throughout his whole life and career. They were inseparable, and eventually went on to have a baby boy and named him Jackie Robinson Jr., who then became Robinson’s second biggest fan. Number 42 let his talent silence his critics as the seasons went on. People began to cheer for him instead of “booing” him and calling him mean names.

Of course there were still many people who opposed the idea of having a black man in America’s favorite sport, but eventually those people had to get over themselves because time was changing, and it was not going back to the way it was before. He basically paved a path for other African American baseball players to follow as well. Many people of all ages who knew and saw Robinson looked up to him. Jackie Robinson was eventually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and when he retired, his number 42 was retired throughout all of baseball as well. Jackie Robinson is a baseball legend, and the movie 42 shows it all.

Works Cited
42. Dir. Brian Helgeland. Perf. Brian Helgeland and Thomas Tull. Warner
Bros. Pictures. 2013. Film.

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