• Robinson film key for museum

  • The Jackie Robinson film biography “42,” will have a special screening Thursday at the AMC BarryWoods 24 (8101 Roanridge Road, Kansas City, Mo.).

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  • The Jackie Robinson film biography “42,” will have a special screening Thursday at the AMC BarryWoods 24 (8101 Roanridge Road, Kansas City, Mo.).
    Many of the film’s stars will be in attendance for the event that will benefit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission. Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, spoke about the gala event.
    1 What does this premier screening mean to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum?
    It quantifies the museum's place as one of the most important cultural institutions in the world. It not only raises the profile of the museum but our city as well. Our efforts are anchored in documenting and substantiating a precious piece of baseball and American history that had gone untold for years and was teetering on the verge of extinction. This film, while focusing on Robinson's historic breaking of baseball's color barrier, also pays homage to the 2,600 men and women who played in the Negro Leagues and provided a professional playing ground that allowed Robinson to be discovered. The film, in a thought-provoking and compelling fashion, will remind a new generation of the tremendous courage he displayed in the face of insurmountable social adversity. So from that respect, it is one of the most important films in a long time. But it is also a great movie. The cast is fantastic. Harrison Ford becomes Branch Rickey before our eyes and Chadwick Boseman is stellar as the temperamental Robinson. The cinematography is a amazing and the story line is strong. You'll leave this movie cheering the power of the human spirit.
    2 What Jackie Robinson memorabilia do you have at the museum?
    Our Robinson collection is primarily photographs and not a lot of memorabilia. We do, however, have a very rare baseball signed by Jackie, Roy Campanella, Junior Gilliam and Joe Black on one side. All of them played in the Negro Leagues and then joined forces with the Brooklyn Dodgers. On the other side, the ball is signed by Ty Cobb! Yes, the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum found a home for Ty Cobb. When the ball was donated by an area family, the late Buck O'Neil would whimsically say "I know Cobb signed that ball first!"
    3 Are you surprised it has taken this long (after the original film in 1950) to get a biography of Jackie Robinson to the big screen?
    I'm surprised but not really surprised. Typically, Hollywood has shunned these kinds of social films perhaps because they believe they won't be a box office success or have great international appeal. But I'm thrilled that Legendary Films stepped up and made this movie. We're all pulling for it to do well.
    4 What impact did Jackie Robinson have on our society and why was he the right man for the job?
    Page 2 of 2 - Jackie Robinson's breaking of baseball's color barrier signaled the beginning of the civil rights movement in America. When he took the field as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers it changed things in our country in ways we never dreamed possible. Oftentimes when talk about civil rights history it focuses on Rosa Parks refusal to move to the back of the bus; or Brown vs. the Board of Education. Robinson predates those occurrences. Or, as Buck O'Neil would so eloquently say, “Dr. Martin Luther King was a sophomore at Morehouse College when Jackie signed his contract.” Robinson wasn't the best ballplayer in the Negro Leagues that's not a slight against Robinson but speaks more to the tremendous talent that was in the Negro Leagues. But he was the right man to be the first. He had the intangibles that better prepared him to deal with the racial hatred he would be confronted with. He was college educated. He had served in the military so he was disciplined. He became married so he was stable. All of those attributes were vitally important to cope with the social pressure. But, he also had to be able to play. Because if he couldn't play this experiment would be over and it would have taken another 10 years or more before another black man would have gotten that opportunity.
    5 What are you most anticipating about the screening?
    I'm so looking forward to seeing the reaction of the Negro League players who will walk the red carpet for the first time. What a great moment as they are finally getting the public notoriety they so deserve. I'm sure my thoughts will drift to my friend Buck O'Neil, who I just wish was here to be a part of this historic occasion. But I know he'll be smiling on all of us!
    Greater Kansas City Sports Commission chairman of the board Thomas Butch will discuss “42” in a future edition of The Examiner. Log onto www.42kansascity.com for more information on the screening and sponsor packages.

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