October 13, 2015
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Don Fowler
4 stars
Reviewer's Rating:

(Inspirational baseball movie)

Jackie Robinson was my hero when I was growing up, and this inspirational movie about a couple of critical years in his life and career taught me much about the prejudice he had to endure when he became the first "Negro" player to break the professional baseball color barrier.

This is a movie that every parent should take their children to see, and every Little League coach should bring his entire team to teach them not only about baseball but also about tolerance and teamwork.

Chadwick Boseman plays Jackie Robinson with a passion, containing his anger while enduring intolerable prejudices from not only opposing fans and teams but his teammates as well.

The movie is as much about Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey as it is Robinson. Harrison Ford gives an Oscar-winning performance as the brave man who recruits Jackie from the Negro League, knowing the rough path that lies ahead for both of them. The movie acknowledges the fact that Rickey not only believed in racial equality but also saw the move as a moneymaker for his team.

There are some great baseball scenes, especially Number 42 taunting pitchers as he steals bases. There are also some disturbing scenes, as we watch pitchers throwing at Robinson's head and watch players, fans and coaches verbally abuse him.

Growing up in the ’40s, I was unaware of the blatant racism, especially in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. Most of the story takes place between 1945 and 1947, as Robinson began his career with the Dodgers.

Stick around for the "What happened to" section during the credits and learn more about Pee Wee Reese, who was a southerner who swallowed his heritage and became a friend of Robinson, and listen to the cheers from the audience as they learn of the fate of the verbally abusive Philadelphia coach.

Rated PG-13, with some racial epithets and a few "cuss words,” but powerful lessons for kids and adults.

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