Appropriately, Monday, designated JACKIE ROBINSON DAY, Major League Baseball honored No. 42, the uniform number JACKIE ROBINSON wore. The courageous Black American ball player who broke baseball’s color barrier, when joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, April 15, 1947, at Ebbetts field, Brooklyn, to the cheers of Black fans especially, seated in segregated section; jeers heard from White fans. Robinson was an extraordinary athlete, a pioneer, fought racism. Passionate advocate for social change. Born January 31, 1919, passed October 24, 1972.

MLB players wore “42” on their uniforms, in celebration of the Man. The annual SPECIAL DAY tradition started April 15, 2004. the day MLB universally retired his uniform.

“42” was a record breaking opening weekend box office hit! I’m sure NAACP Chapters across the nation urged members to see the film. Robinson was a fighter for civil rights, member and activist with the organization. Blunt! Before his passing, he let MLB know he’d like to see a Black Manager.

Last Friday afternoon took in “42”. Terrific film and acting. The role of Jackie Robinson passionately portrayed by actor Chadwick Boseman, and distinguished actor Harrison Ford, played Dodger General Manager Branch Ricky who signed Robinson - excellent; both Boseman and Ricky give the story teeth - TRUE GRIT, their acting is the glue that holds the picture. You could hear a pin drop in the West Portal Cine'arts @ Empire Theater, intense interest in every word and action on the screen; at times raw!.

The film, directed by Brian Heigeland, produced by Thomas Tull, highly acclaimed , - will cause WINDS OF CHANGE. Boseman is committed to talking to young groups about Robinson, a young man himself, who has played several TV roles (Fringe, Lincoln Heights and Cold Case.), as commented on Sportscaster Bob Costner, “Studio 42,”aired on MLB channel, he wants to travel , tell the story of Jackie Robinson - an American Legend! Also guests, Harrison Ford, and retired Dodger pitcher Don Newcombe (played in the old Negro League,) signed with the Dodgers; he and Jackie were close friends.

Sunday morning, on “Meet the Press,” Robinson’s pretty widow, RACHEL ROBINSON, and filmmaker KEN BURNS were guests. Mrs. Robinson expressed she was very pleased with the movie - thrilled! Stated the bio very authentic, powerful, very inspiring (indeed!). She especially talked with Boseman prior to filming, to get his feel as to how he planned to tell her husband’s story. During her conversation, she went on to say she hoped her husband’s story would have a strong impression on young people.

GO see the movie, it grabs the heart, real, make people realize the passion and fight within Robinson! A time of Jim Crow laws and segregation - disrespect for the Black man! Bozeman gives a glowing performance.

Burns shared he was working on a film about Robinson, that would go further into his life, to be released 2015. “42” covers a short period in Robinson’s life, for he went on to be actively involved with the NAACP, as was Mrs. Robinson who has kept his spirit alive.

Branch Ricky , savvy, and courageous - other White owners fought him over Robinson, But he was compelled, by opportunity and talent in the Negro League, a man who wanted to win AND make money! Not about Black and White but GREEN!

Eventually the Negro league was impacted when other team owners started looking at the money to be made, brought Black fans to the games. (perhaps, a different slave trade). Robinson played in the old Negro League with the Kansas City Monarchs.

There was a time Black sports writers were PROHIBITED from the Press Box. “42” shows one sportswriter portray the role of Wendell Smith, a Black sports writer for the Pittsburgh Courier, assigned by his editor, or took it upon himself, to follow Robinson’s early journey with the team; game day he had to sit in the segregated area, with a typewriter on his lap. He helped Robinson keep his cool, not to blow off in temper, thus ruin his chances with Ricky, family, and disappoint Black fans! Forced to grit his teeth when slurs were hurled at him, that included the n-word and worse!

Many Whites hated Branch Ricky, who loved baseball, wanted the game to succeed, especially his team. When he signed Robinson - MONEY was made, for Black fans packed Dodger Stadium stands, dressed up!
Ricky and Robinson met the challenge, soon other owners followed suit, signed many Black athletes from Negro teams. GIANTS’ WILLIE MAYS was one - he played for the Birmingham Black Barons. JACKIE ROBINSON PAVED THE WAY FOR BLACK ATHLETES!

When Robinson broke the color line, I was about 12 years old, raised in Asbury Park, New Jersey, not too far from New York. and major league games. My parents, through their interest in the sport, introduced me to the game of baseball, watched the Dodgers - at the time, Black America’s team.

My love for the game started as a young kid, Never in my wildest dream thought I would be able to attend a Major League game; less more than writing about the Giants; on the field, pursing Barry Bonds, Mays, and others. AND reporting from the press box, mingling with sports writers, the likes of Glenn Dicky, Monte Poole.

MLB Commissioner BUD SELIG sent out a Press Release, dated April 10, that announced the creation of an ON-FIELD Diversity Task Force to address the talent pipeline that impacts the representation and development of diverse players and on-field personnel in Major League Baseball, particularly AFRICAN-AMERICANS.

According to the Player Diversity Report (released on 11/13/12 ), The Diversity of Player Profile on 40-man Major League rosters was 62% Caucasian, 28% Hispanic, 8% African American. Hall of Famer FRANK ROBINSON on the Task Force.

Today, Young African American ball players are interested in basketball and football. There are no Black mentors or superstars, like in the old days, to attract kids to the game. Notice, many are interested in SOCCER!

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