By Cassandra Lans
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, along with Sharon Robinson (daughter of Jackie Robinson) and the Milwaukee Brewers hosted a private screening of the movie “42” for teenagers from Roosevelt Middle School on Tuesday, April 23 at Marcus North Shore Cinema.
The students, who come from the 6th through 8th grades, had access to the movie free of charge, followed by a question and answer exchange for the students, Selig and Robinson.
Robinson, who is also an author treated the students with free copies of her children’s book following the film as well.
“42 brilliantly depicts not only the proudest and most powerful event in baseball history, but also a watershed moment in American history and the Civil Rights Movement,” said Commissioner Selig
“This film is a profound way for all of us throughout Major League Baseball to educate our next generation about Jackie Robinson’s vital impact on our nation. I thank Thomas Tull and his colleagues for working with the Robinson family and allowing this enduring American story to be told to a worldwide audience. With our annual April 15th celebration, the wide-ranging efforts of all 30 Clubs and now this inspirational film, it is an honor for our industry to continue to shine a light on the vibrant legacy of Jackie Robinson.”
The film is currently in theaters and stars Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson and Academy Award® nominee Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who signed Jackie to the team. Presented by Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, “42” is written and directed by Academy Award® winner Brian Helgeland and is a Legendary Pictures Production. In its opening weekend, “42,” which is available in more than 3,000 theaters nationwide, took in $27.5 million, marking the best opening weekend ever for a baseball movie according to multiple industry references.
Robinson shared with the audience that Selig contacted her and her mother Rachel after he saw the film and expressed to her how much the film touched him.
Selig is also responsible for the retiring of the number “42” for all of the baseball clubs in the U.S., a decision that he made back in 1997.
On April 15, 1997 the 50th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball the number “42” was retired in a tribute held at New York’s Shea Stadium.
“That was a special night, and another one that will go down in the history books. The 50th Anniversary of Jack’s (his wife Rachel always calls him Jack) breaking the color barrier, at Shea Stadium with President Bill Clinton. Now, that was a special night that I am proud that I was able to do as the commissioner.” Selig shared with reporters following the special viewing.
He also stated, that it was his second time seeing the film and plans to see it again. He said that following the first time he saw it, he literally had tears in his eyes. And he was elated that the Brewers’ decided to host this viewing for youngsters, and that Sharon Robinson had the opportunity to come and participate in this special event as well.
Members of the Robinson Family including Jackie Robinson’s widow, Rachel, today at 90 still works to keep her late husband’s legacy alive. In 1973, following Robinson’s death at the age of 53 in 1972 she founded Jackie Robinson Foundation.
The Foundation has helped to send thousands of students to college. And she still goes to work at the foundation a couple days a week.
It is also been reported that Rachel was consulted as were other members of the film throughout the film process.
At one point she was hoping the movie might include some of the civil rights work that Jackie went on to do, but now she understands the dramatic power created by the movie’s tighter focus: it takes place entirely in the years when Jackie was breaking baseball’s color barrier, 1946 and ‘47.
Sharon stated that she was happy to see that the film did depict that he father was a religious man though. She asked the students if they understood what her father was doing at one point of the film when he paused, and they answered “praying”, she smiled and said, “Yes, I wanted the audience to see that side of him. In the movie previews, they shoot him from behind and one may think that his pause was a hesitation, but it was him praying. He was a prayerful man.”