Let me start by saying that I am certainly no movie critic … I don’t even go to a lot of movies at the theater. In addition, I rarely read movie reviews because I like to see what I want to see and form my own opinion on what I do or do not enjoy. So now that the disclaimers are out of the way, I want to share my thoughts about the movie, “42” – the Jackie Robinson story.
Basic Plot Line
Naturally, the movie is a biopic of Jackie Robinson (portrayed by Chadwick Boseman) in 1946 & 1947 … important to note that this is a mere snippet of time – the making of Jackie as a Brooklyn Dodger (crossing the baseball color line) and not really his playing career. This may or may not disappoint some hard-core baseball fans. And even though I “knew” the story and the outcome walking into the theater, it certainly didn’t affect my ability to enjoy it and anticipate what might happen next – I was fairly riveted to the storyline … great acting certainly helped!
The General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey (wonderfully played by Harrison Ford) was truly a visionary in his desire to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing a Negro player. Initially he talks about how it is good for winning, which is good to make more money; however, toward the end, he shares a story with Robinson from his past of how he didn’t feel he did enough for a Negro player and really wanted to make it right.
The movie chronicles the selection of Robinson to be “the” one – his signing – and then his move from the Kansas City Monarchs (part of the Negro Leagues) to the spring training camp of the Montreal Royals (a minor league affiliate of the Dodgers’ organization). Jackie’s first hope is to actually make the Montreal team, which he does. Now the movie doesn’t spend any time in Montreal but a friend of mine (who is Canadian) commented that he and his wife were loved there and shared a video with me (see links below). They were not so welcomed in the US where even on the minor league team he was boo’d and cursed for playing “white baseball.”
Of course, Jackie Robinson was called up to the majors and played for the Brooklyn Dodgers (for 10 years). The taunting and prejudice that Robinson received in the minor league system was just the beginning. In the majors, fans, league officials, players, even teammates were against him. Teams threatened to forfeit because they didn’t want to share a field with him. Teammates asked to be traded because they didn’t want to wear the same uniform or share a locker room with him. One of the most painful scenes in the movie is the constant taunting by the Phillies manager, Ben Chapman (Alan Tudyk) who threw an endless barrage of the N-word at him for every at bat. But humanity did come through as that also prompted teammates to start standing up for Jackie and this was a turning point in the clubhouse relationships.
My favorite Parts of the Movie “42”
The relationship with Rachel Robinson (Nicole Beharie) – Jackie’s wife – although there could have been more revealed, there was enough to demonstrate that she was loving, loyal, and supportive of Jackie and his desire to play Major League Baseball regardless of the incredible challenges they both faced.
Wonderful scenes at the old ballparks … now I must put those locations on my “must see” ballparks list. Many of the minor league game scenes were shot on location at Rickwood Field in Birmingham, AL. This ballpark has quite a history of its own and was highly appropriate for this movie. The other location was Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, TN – it received renovations for the movie and was used as the “Ebbets Field.”
I giggled every time there was a scene with Jackie taunting pitchers with the fear of stealing a base, which he did with ease! He just loved getting in their heads and pulling them off their game by worrying about him … and with good reason! Man, I sure would have loved to see him play!
I was also fascinated with the interplay between Jackie and Wendell Smith (Andre Holland). It was obvious he was a writer – likely a sports reporter – but I did not fully understand his role or who he worked for based on the movie. Thus, I had to do a bit of research when I got home. It seems he a sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Courier and was pretty influential in the selection of Jackie Robinson because he covered the Negro Leagues and knew he had the strong character needed to succeed in this difficult role. He was paid by both the Courier and Branch Rickey to assist Jackie and ensure he had a place to sleep and eat in safety – often a challenge during the “Whites Only” days of segregation. I would have liked to have seen this relationship a bit more fully explored in the movie.
Ultimately, it came down to baseball and the objective was to let the play on the field settle any question about who should or should not be playing in the major leagues! That was ultimately proved when Robinson made the game-winning – National League pennant-clinching – home run off of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who previously beamed him in the head (obviously on purpose). Talk about settling it on the field – now that was perfect – and the look on that pitcher’s face was priceless!
My Favorite Quotes from the Movie “42”
Jackie Robinson: “You want a player who doesn’t have the guts to fight back?” Branch Rickey: “No. I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back.” Jackie Robinson: “You give me a uniform, you give me a number on my back, I’ll give you the guts.”
Leo Durocher: “If Robinson can help us win, then he is gonna play on this ball club!“
Reporter: “What you gonna do if one of these pitchers throws for your head?” Jackie Robinson: “I’ll duck.”
Wendell Smith: “You are not the only one with something at stake here. Why do you think I sit on the 3rd base line with my typewriter in my lap? Negros aren’t allowed in the Press Box.”
Branch Rickey: “The world’s not so simple anymore, I guess it never was. We ignored it, now we can’t.”
Ralph Branca: “Maybe tomorrow we’ll all wear 42” (… and now they do on Jackie Robinson Day!)
The Baseball PHD Recommendation
The movie made me laugh … made me cry … made me think. Whether or not you like baseball, you should see this movie because it is part of history and the more we know the less likely we are to repeat mistakes. But if you love baseball, you HAVE to see this movie because it will give you a glimpse at history and a truly American Hero – and darn good baseball player!
Just the Facts
“42” runs 128 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including language.
Brian Helgeland – Director/Screenwriter
Thomas Tull – Producer
Dick Cook, Josh Jashni, & Jason Clark – Executive Producers
- Harrison Ford – as Branch Rickey
- Chadwick Boseman – as Jackie Robinson
- Nicole Beharie – as Rachel Robinson
- Christopher Meloni – as Leo Durocher
- Andre Holland – as Wendell Smith
- Lucas Black – as Pee Wee Reese
- Hamish Linklater – as Ralph Branca
Links to Additional Information
FINALLY! I think the San Diego Padres have the last possible Home Opener for the 2013 MLB Season. I know how ready I am for my team to be home and I can only imagine how ready the team is! They left for Spring Training in late February – traveled to San Antonio to play the Rangers in the Alamodome Mar 30-31. The Padres then flew to New York to play the Mets for their home opener Apr 1-4. Next they flew to Colorado to play the Rockies in their home opener Apr 5-7. Whew! It has been a rough opening thus far (1W/5L) and I’m extremely hopeful that being HOME is exactly what we need to change that around.
My tickets are in hand.
My backpack is packed.
My Padres hat is loaded with pins but with room for an Opening Day 2013 pin to be added.
My toes got a pedi in Padres blue and decorated with baseball stitches.
Of course, my HEART is always with MY Padres I look forward to cheering them onward all season!
For some reason, UPS made this an extra-long wait and sent my tickets on quite a vacation before arriving on my doorstep. I received the notice on Mar 28 that they had been shipped and started tracking their progress. Now I’ve worked in distribution and logistics in my past – and I understand the concept of hubs and how that may cause items to seemingly go further away before coming back to the final destination – but this was just crazy! Honolulu? Really? Maybe I should start traveling with the season tickets 🙂
Nevertheless – they finally arrived! I don’t know about you but I am like a kid on Christmas morning when my box arrives with my baseball season tickets. Sure, I could access them online. Absolutely, I already know who we will be playing and when – it’s already in my Outlook calendar. But there is something special about holding them in your hand … finding out the design … seeing which players are featured. And you never know what else might be in the box. Woo hoo!
Here is the box … isn’t it beautiful! Love the gold embossed SD Padres logo. The 4-color photos that line each side are a nice touch this year.
Not only are the tickets inside but also the brand new “Membership” cards. Your game package determines whether you are Black, Platinum, Gold, or Blue … I have a full season in Toyota Terrace and that makes me “Platinum.” We were then able to select from Family, Business, Social, or Fanatic … I selected Fanatic … shocking, I know! Each level of membership comes with added benefits and special activities. If you want to get season tickets, I highly recommend Hayley Hallam – she always hits a homerun with her customer service!!
Featured on this year’s tickets:
The Skipper, Buddy Black
Yonder Alonso, Chase Headley, and Mark Kotsay
Chris Denorfia, Carlos Quentin, and Cameron Maybin
Huston Street, Clayton Richard, and Edison Volquez
The Padres as remind us that they are a Team for the Military!
81 home games to look forward to! In addition to our NL West Division rivals and playing the NL teams, we will have interleague play with Mariners, Blue Jays, Orioles, and for the first time at Petco Park – the Yankees.
Eleven MLB Teams!
Saw 11 teams play in 7 different games.
Ten Days in Arizona!
Can’t say the weather was great. So spoiled with the typically sunny and warm Spring Training weather in Phoenix but this year it was very chilly the first week (low 40s for morning practices and 60 at game time) and rainy the second week (including a top-of-the 4th rainout). Nevertheless, it was still baseball!
Nine Innings of Baseball!
Honestly – was having trouble coming up with a “9” and this was suggested. It is appropriate since Spring Training games don’t go into extra innings. Overall, I truly saw 75 innings, if you include the World Baseball Classic.
Eight Nights in Hotels!
I’m never sure why people find this great … I would rather be home, in my own bed. But I have no complaints. My longest stay was 5 nights at the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham in Mesa, AZ … it is very close to the AZ101 and to the ballparks on the East side. On our return trip, we stopped in Yuma, AZ and stayed at our usual Oak Tree Inn. Once we arrived in Peoria, AZ, it was back to the Ramada Inn in Peoria … our 3rd stay there. None of these hotels are five star but they are family-friendly, reasonably priced, clean, and conveniently located.
Seven Spring Training Games!
- 2/25 – White Sox at Giants
- 2/26 – Diamondbacks at Angels
- 2/27 – Giants at Angels
- 2/28 – Athletics at Cubs
- 3/01 – Brewers at Rockies
- 3/08 – Athletics at Mariners
- 3/09 – Rangers at Padres
Six New Baseballs!
Five Spring Training Ballparks!
Be sure to read the blogs on each of these ballparks.
4 Media Credentials!
A huge thank you to the following teams for your hospitality:
- Giants – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access
- Rockies – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access
- Angels – provided Pressbox, Field, and Clubhouse access … was able to interview Manager, Mike Scioscia
- Padres – was able to interview, Manager, Bud Black
3 Great Travel Companions!
This was our sixth consecutive year to make the trek to Arizona for Spring Training … it is amazing how much the boys have grown in that time.
2 World Baseball Classic Games!
We loved the WBC when it was in San Diego in 2009 and were happy to have the opportunity to catch some games in conjunction with Spring Training. We saw USA play Italy on 3/08 and then USA play Canada on 3/10. TheBaseballPHD even got a few tweets on the jumbotron 🙂
1 More Year of Terrific Memories!
It was another wonderful year at Spring Training and I look forward to 2014 … but first, it’s time for the regular season! Play Ball!!
East of Scottsdale, Arizona, on the land of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, sits a beautiful 140-acre complex named Salt River Fields at Talking Stick – the first MLB park to be built on Native American land. The complex is the Spring Training home for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. Salt River is currently the newest MLB Spring Training facility and replaced the Tucson Electric Park for the Diamondbacks and Hi Corbett Field for the Rockies.
Each team has an 85,000-square-foot clubhouse (with offices, fitness, and locker rooms), six full-size practice fields (one with the same dimensions as the respective team’s home stadium), two infield only practice diamonds, and 10 covered batting cages. The Diamondbacks occupy the facilities along the left field and the Rockies are in the right field area. I must say, I conducted interviews in the Rockies’ Clubhouse (no photography allowed) and it was magnificent … open space, spacious lockers, leather seating areas, flat screen TVs, computers, granite bars … five star all the way!
The stadium was positioned to face northeast to maximize shade within the grandstand. With 7,000 chair back seats and 4,000 berm seating (the largest of all the facilities), the stadium lists 11,000 as capacity; however, the latest attendance record was established on March 24, 2013 with 12,864 – obviously, fans utilized extensive berm and standing room only to squeeze in! Luckily, there are over 3,000 parking spaces as well.
Grand Opening was February 11, 2011 and the first game was the Diamondbacks and Rockies on February 26, 2011. The ceremonial first pitch was delivered by Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Tribal President Diane Enos and Vice President Martin Harvier. The National Anthem was performed by Salt River Elementary School choir. The Rockies won the first game 8-7 after 10 innings of play.
The name Salt River Fields at Talking Stick defines the location and culture of the facility.
- “Salt River Fields” represents the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
- “Fields” refers to the 12 practice fields located within the facility and also the Community’s rich agricultural history.
- “Talking Stick” is an historical reference to the traditional Pima calendar stick on which carvers recorded historical events and milestones
A local Pima artist and calendar stick carver, Royce Manuel, designed the concept for the logo. It brings together the Diamondbacks’ rattlesnake with the Rockies’ mountain range. Great that it also emphasizes the local mountain ranges as well as the rattlesnake in Southwestern Native American culture. A Dallas-based design firm, FocusEGd, refined the design into a graphic image.
The fans have been packing the stadium for both teams since the stadium opened in 2011. The beautiful facility, lovely mountain backdrop, and two MLB teams makes it a great destination for Spring Training fans. And if you go to Salt River Fields, you will have many options to suit your palette. From Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar to 101 Cattle Company’s angus burgers; Cold Stone Creamery to chocolate covered bananas & strawberries on a stick (berry kabobs); numerous wieners abound at the Home Plate Hot Dogs and, of course, the Salty Senorita taco bar and Del Rios southwestern cuisine. If you are more health conscious, never fear! There are specialty wraps, salads of the day, sweet potato fries, Island Noodle, and several gluten free choices.
Notes – As noted earlier, the practice fields are extensive. The Rockies’ half is known as the “Mountain” side … park in the Mountain Parking lot on the south side of the complex. The fields are named: Duststorm, Red Mountain, Adobe, Wild Horse, Red Clay, and Cottonwood. The Diamondbacks use the “Desert” side of the complex … park in the Desert Parking lot on the north side of the complex. Those fields are named: Whirlwind, Jackrabbit, Quail, Ramada, Devil’s Claw, and Mesquite. Parking is complimentary on non-game days but there is a $5 charge on game day, regardless of whether or not you actually attend the game. Of course, if you are attending the game, the gates open 2 hours and 10 minutes before first pitch and you will usually find the home team taking batting practice in the stadium.
When planning your Spring Training visit – be sure to include Salt River Fields at Talking Stick!
The Baseball PHD visited Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Friday, Mar 01, 2013 … The Rockies hosted the Brewers and the home team was victorious with a 5-2 score and 7,443 fans in attendance.Ballpark address: 7555 N. Pima Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Peoria, Arizona, location of the Peoria Sports Complex – the Spring Training home for the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. The complex is owned by the City of Peoria and sits on 145 acres near Bell Road and AZ101. The stadium seats 11,333, has 12 practice fields, 2 team clubhouses, and 1 visitor’s clubhouse. Attendance for Spring Training has averaged about 230,000 and another 300,000 fill the complex for other events throughout the year including Arizona Summer League, Arizona Instructional League baseball, Arizona Fall League, and the Arizona Baseball Academy to name a few.
In 1993, the City of Peoria finalized a two-year negotiation between the Mariners and Padres to begin construction on the Peoria Sports Complex. It was the first Spring Training facility in MLB to be shared by two teams and has since served as a model for others. Construction was completed and the first Spring Training games were played there in 1994, March 2 – Padres vs. Mariners. Each team signed a 20 year lease initially and negotiated a lease renewal through 2033. As a part of the renewal agreement, extensive renovations will take place to both clubhouses as well as the stadium. Both teams use the complex year round for player development.
Of course, Spring Training also means an opportunity for fans to get up close to Major League players and those who will be stars in the future. Saying hello – getting a hat or a ball signed – having one of the players recognize you from before – it’s all part of what makes Spring Training fantacular! Some of the newer facilities have been built to keep fans at a distance and I truly believe that is a mistake because this is a time to be part of the experience. But that is certai0nly not the case with the Peoria Sports Complex … it is truly one of the most fan-friendly ballparks in the Cactus League system. In addition to filling your autograph book you should plan to fill your stomach as well! The food selections are outstanding … tri tip, shrimp or fish tacos, freshly grilled teriyaki bowls, Greek Gyros, BBQ, special kids meals, and much more.
Notes – I love my team and I would go to Peoria every year to see them regardless; however, I have been to every ballpark in the Cactus League and this particular complex remains my favorite because of the overall atmosphere and experience. When you leave the complex you have more food choices than you can handle … from fast food to complete dining … and there is a shopping mall across the street as well in case there is something you need to buy. With an AL and NL team calling Peoria home, you are sure to find a match up that you want to see – and why not see it at the most fan-friendly ballpark – that’s what Spring Training is all about!
The Baseball PHD has been visiting the Peoria Sports Complex since 2008. This year she visited on two consecutive days:
- Friday, Mar 8, 2013 – Athletics @ Mariners: A’s 12, Mariners 1 – game called in the top of the 4th due to rain
- Saturday, Mar 9, 2013 – Rangers @ Padres: Rangers 5, Padres 2 with 3,489 in attendance
Mesa, Arizona, 10 miles east of Phoenix and location of the Hohokam Stadium (also known as Dwight W. Patterson Field) is the Spring Training home for the Chicago Cubs. Mesa has hosted the Cubs since 1952 and Hohokam Stadium, which opened in 1997, also serves as the home for the Mesa Solar Sox team of the Arizona Fall League. There is a supplemental training facility about a half-mile away – Fitch Park – that includes four practice fields and a practice infield. Extensive seating and a large berm area provides a capacity of 13,074 and they sell out quite frequently! The berm area is spacious and with many more amenities than other stadiums. For a view of the Superstition Mountains, be sure to sit in the 200-level sections (third base side).
The stadium is named after the Mesa HoHoKams, an influential local civic organization that has been the booster of Spring Training baseball in Mesa since 1951. However, the origin of the name actually dates back to the Hohokam Indians who occupied that area until the mid-1400’s. Mesa boasts over 90 years of baseball beginning in 1921 with Rendezvous Park. Spring Training arrived in Mesa in 1950 with a minor league team and then the Cubs in 1952.
What is it about Cubs fans? Regardless of the venue, regardless of the record, they are out in full force and supporting their team vigorously. It must be something in the agony of defeat that pulls together a culture that remains loyal in that long-time quest for a championship. The Chicago Cubs (notably, their fans!), have set many Spring Training attendance records … 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009 major league record culminating with 203,105 in 2009 through 19 home games. The newer Salt River Fields has recently broken the record.
Notes – Although all indications were that you could not enter the ballpark for BP, I arrived just after 10:00 AM and was told it was open. Sure enough, the Cubs were taking BP – there was hardly anyone in the stadium and it was great to have easy access to all parts of the stadium except the berm area – it remained closed until the end of BP. Similar to many Spring Training facilities, the Fergie Jenkins Foundation ensured there were several retired MLB players available to sign autographs for charity. In that same area, behind the left field line bleachers, there was a trailer serving Iowa breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches – had to have one – glad I did!
Point of Interest – This is the last year to see the Chicago Cubs call Hohokam their Spring Training home. Their new Spring Training facility is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in December 2013. It will be 3.3 miles west of Hohokam Park at the crossroads of the AZ101 and AZ202 loops. I look forward to visiting it after it is opened.
The Athletics are Coming! The following statement was posted March 5, 2013 on the Athletic’s Facebook page:
The Oakland Athletics and the City of Mesa have reached a 20-year agreement for the team to train in the East Valley city, beginning in February 2015. The A’s, who also hold two five-year options that could extend the contract to 30 years, will conduct workouts at Fitch Park and play their Spring Training games at Hohokam Stadium, the current home of the Chicago Cubs. Fitch Park and Hohokam Stadium are scheduled to undergo $20 million in renovations next year.
As you can see, Hohokam Stadium provides everything you need to enjoy a baseball game and I encourage you to put this destination on your list!
The Baseball PHD visited Hohokam Stadium on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 … The Cubs hosted the Athletics and the home team was victorious with a 5-3 score and 4,037 fans in attendance.Ballpark address: 1235 North Center Street Mesa, AZ 85201