April 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Terry Foster

Kids see Jackie Robinson movie '42' as a history lesson

Jackie Robinson, the first black major leaguer, played 10 seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers and hit .311. (Associated Press)

Detroit There was a defining moment in the movie "42," where Philadelphia manager Ben Chapman stands on the edge of the dugout and delivers a racist tirade aimed at Brooklyn rookie Jackie Robinson.

There were uncomfortable murmurs inside the theater at the Renaissance Center complex, as boys from Cody Academy and Don Bosco Hall watched.

Sure, the movie is based on events that happened more than 60 years ago when Robinson broke baseball's color barrier.

But the words still made some of the kids boil.

And think.

"I think I would freak out," Brandon Rutland, a junior at Cody, said of his reaction if he heard that today. "I would be very upset and mad."

But he thought about the big picture and what Robinson's legacy meant.

After being ridiculed twice in the film, Robinson went below the stands, broke a bat and was consoled by Dodgers executive Branch Rickey. Robinson would later return … and score the winning run.

"I would have tried to find a way to calm myself down," Rutland said. "I would clear my mind, play the sport and have fun and realize the only reason I am here is because of my love of baseball."

Starting a dialogue

After the movie, there was a panel discussion with former Negro League player and longtime Northwestern High coach Ron Teasley, Sam Abrams of the Tigers, David Solano of WXYZ, and Alexis Dishman and Shani Allison, members of the Jackie Robinson Foundation alumni.

One of the kids asked if people believed Robinson would succeed when he signed with the Dodgers.

If you listen to people like Rutland, the answer is clear.

"No matter what color you are and no matter what time period it is, you always can achieve," he said. "The (Dodgers) realized it was about achievement.

"Everybody came together because they did not care about that. They were there to play baseball. They realized that Jackie Robinson brought it all together and that the main thing was to win a championship."

Seems like these kids will remember these things and understand "42" is more than just a movie.


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