Jersey No. 42 retired by MLB in 1997
by Alex McRae
Newnan’s Luke Large appears in the Hollywood feature film “42,” which opens in theaters nationwide on Friday.
The film is about Jackie Robinson, who was the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball.
Robinson’s name is familiar, but many Americans are not aware of his story or how his struggle changed a nation. The following information about Robinson and the film is provided by Warner Brothers.
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Academy Award-winner Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) wrote and directed the drama “42,” starring Chadwick Boseman (“The Express”) and Oscar nominee Harrison Ford (“Witness”).
Hero is a word we hear often in sports, but heroism is not always about achievements on the field of play. “42” tells the story of two men — the great Jackie Robinson and legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey — whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball.
In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) put himself at the forefront of history when he signed Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team, breaking Major League Baseball’s infamous color line. But the deal also put both Robinson and Rickey in the firing line of the public, the press and even other players. Facing unabashed racism from every side, Robinson was forced to demonstrate tremendous courage and restraint by not reacting in kind, knowing that any incident could destroy his and Rickey’s hopes. Instead, No. 42 let his talent on the field do the talking — ultimately winning over fans and his teammates, silencing his critics, and paving the way for others to follow.
In 1997, Major League Baseball retired No. 42 for all teams, making it the first number in sports to be universally retired.
The only exception is April 15 — Jackie Robinson Day — commemorating the date of his first game as a Brooklyn Dodger. On that day alone, players from every team proudly wear No. 42 to honor the man who altered the course of history.