With “42″ hitting theaters today, I decided to publish a Jackie Robinson-themed Daily Distractions today. These ought to tide us over as we wait to find out how much time Carlos Quentin and Zack Greinke will miss.
• I asked Larry King what he thought of “42″ and he was floored by its historical accuracy. King said he attended Robinson’s first game as a Dodger on April 15, 1947 in Brooklyn (though he wasn’t consulted prior to filming the movie). He had no complaints about the celluloid re-creation of Ebbets Field, where he became a lifelong Dodgers fan. His only gripe: Dodgers left fielder Gene Hermanski bats left-handed and not right-handed, as he did in the film.
• To that end: “17 million Negroes cannot do as you suggest and wait for the hearts of men to change,” Robinson wrote a sitting President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, on May 13, 1958.
• The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has gotten such a big boost from the film, the museum president is turning down corporate sponsors.
• At the end of this Rob Neyer piece you’ll find (via YouTube) The Jackie Robinson Story, the first Jackie Robinson biopic, starring Jackie Robinson as Jackie Robinson.
• Sports writer Wendell Smith is featured prominently in the film. The Chicago Sun-Times fills in his back story.
• Not featured prominently in the movie: “Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?” by Woodrow Buddy Johnson and Count Basie: