Baseball is America's pasttime. It's a rather simple game that's produced countless heroes over the generations it's been played.
But perhaps there is no greater hero to have ever played the game than Jackie Robinson--the man who broke the racial boundary in America's beloved sport.
The recently released "42" is the biopic directed by Brian Helgeland, whickh chronicles Robinson's rise to baseball immortality.
The film starts off with Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) discussing the potential of bringing in an African-American ball player to the Brooklyn Dodgers, though he didn't know who this particular player was.
Through an extensive search, Rickey eventually finds the dossier of Robinson, complete with his baseball record, his religious affiliation, and his army service record.
Rickey takes special note of Robinson being a Methodist and his disdain for segregation in the military and chooses him to become the first African-American player potentially play in "white baseball."
From there, the film chronicles Robinson's participation in spring training and his playing the 1946 season with the Dodgers' affiliate Montreal Royals and his eventual call up to the Dodgers.
The film, as expected, delivers the major points of Robinson's integration into major league baseball, but breathes a breath of emotion and life into the struggles of a black man overcoming the continual racial boundaries.
One particular game against the Phillies is shown in the film and leads to one of the most emotional scenes in all of the sports dramas ever made. Another scene towards the end shows just how Robinson's integration into baseball broke the barriers with Pee Wee Reese. You may need the tissues for that particular scene as well.
Helgeland, while focusing on Robinson, shows the sheer brilliance of Branch Rickey's scheme.
Very cleverly depicted, Rickey didn't see things in sheer black and white, like most of society in the 1940s.
No, he saw that every baseball fan and player meant one color--green.
And the plan worked.
But Rickey's plan did more than just to bring in money to the Dodgers organization.
He knew that fans would rally around a winner, even if that winner was a black man.
Though the film depicts Robinson accurately and injects emotion through the various tests he was put through, the film does get off to a brisk pace, but eventually settles down.
Ford is excellent as Rickey and portrays him as a man who wants to generate cash revenue by bringing Robinson into the game.
His best scene comes when Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) confronts him and asks why he brought him into the league.
The film is rated PG-13, mostly for language, but is a film that any sports enthusiast should see.
"42" comes in a day and age where there have been movies about racial equality in sports, but gets back to the roots of where it all started.
There's a reason the No. 42 jersey hangs retired in every Major League ballpark in the country. This film shows the legend behind the No. 42.
-- Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.