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5 Core Conservative Values in the New Jackie Robinson Biopic 42

It was a different country in 1947 when the Republican president of the Brooklyn Dodgers came up with a gutsy strategy to win the World Series.

by
John Boot

Bio

April 12, 2013 - 6:30 am



The stirring new movie 42 tells the story of how, in 1947 America, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford) broke the unwritten rule about hiring black players and called up Negro League superstar Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to join his team. Robinson would go on to win the Rookie of the Year award and later the Most Valuable Player honors on the way to a Hall of Fame career.

What are the conservative lessons about Jackie Robinson’s life to be learned from 42?

1) Merit is colorblind.

Rickey (a lifelong Republican) tells Robinson he is hiring him for one reason: Robinson (who then played for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro League) was a baseball phenom and Rickey wants to win the World Series. This is Moneyball before Moneyball: Finding untapped talent others are ignoring. Rickey had in mind not only Robinson but Roy Campanella, the black catcher who would soon follow Robinson into the big leagues, as players who could help him win the Series and make money in the process. Rickey says there’s no black or white in sports, just green. Manager Leo Durocher (Christopher Meloni) tells the team, “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays.

2) There’s no substitute for a strong, loving nuclear family.

Robinson never knew his own father, who left his mother and her five children when Jackie was still a baby. In 42, when he gets the good news that the Brooklyn Dodgers want to give him a shot at being the first black player in the major leagues (in reality, there were some black players in the early days of baseball back in the 1880s), Jackie phones up his girlfriend Rachel (Nicole Beharie) and asks her to marry him right away. Later in the film, Jackie is seen cuddling his newborn son Jackie Jr. and telling him, “I’m going to be with you till the day I die.” Robinson, who along with Rachel raised two other children as well, was as good as his word, remaining a family man until his too-early death at age 53.

3) If you want to get noticed, work hard.

Robinson was a tremendous player for the Kansas City Monarchs and never expected to be a role model for desegregation. But when he gets the opportunity to play for the Dodgers, he vows, “You give me a uniform, you give me a number on my back, and I’ll give you the guts.” In the movie, he’s shown diligently learning two new positions (a former shortstop, he had to learn both second base and first base to play for the Dodgers) to help the team. His work ethic endears him to fellow Dodgers Pee Wee Reese and Ralph Branca, who treat him warmly even as some other players demand to be traded away.

4) Turn the other cheek.

Rickey and Robinson had something big in common besides baseball: They were both devout Methodists. The film somewhat deemphasizes Robinson’s Christianity, though it does feature several scenes in which Rickey uses Biblical references to motivate Robinson, telling him at one point that the player must endure “in the wilderness 40 days.” In reality the bond was equally strong on both sides and Rickey used the Sermon on the Mount to inspire Robinson to forgive his aggressors.

Before hiring Robinson, Rickey worried that the ballplayer had a temper problem. Robinson refused to sit in the back of a military bus during his Army career in WW II,  and was court-martialed for it. Rickey warns his new player that he is signing up for a torrent of racist abuse and when Robinson asks in disbelief whether the baseball exec really wants a black player who is afraid to fight back, Rickey tells him, “I want a player who’s got the guts not to fight back. Your enemy will be out in force, and you cannot meet him on his own low ground.” At a Philadelphia Phillies game, the opposing manager harangued Robinson nonstop with racist remarks as the player stood in the batter’s box, but Robinson never retaliated, either verbally or physically.

5) When you get knocked down, don’t whine, get back up.

Robinson (who played first base his rookie year) was spiked in the leg by St. Louis Cardinals star Enos Slaughter and is shown being hit in the head with a pitch, an occupational hazard for any baseball player in the era before mandatory helmets but perhaps a special risk for Robinson. (Though it’s unclear whether this particular incident happened as the film shows.) Robinson doesn’t let such injuries faze him, and he forbids his teammates to avenge him. He simply gets up and resumes playing the game.

John Boot is the pen name of a conservative writer operating under deep cover in the liberal media.

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All Comments   (6)
All Comments   (6)
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I'm not really getting where these are CONSERVATIVE values, other than the perception that "conservatives are good, therefore all virtuous qualities are reflected in them and their lives." As a person who has seen both sides of the political spectrum up close, having lived half his life in Alabama and half in San Francisco, I can attest that this is flawed thinking at best; utter nonsense at worst. Not that conservatives never embody these virtues, mind you -- they just don't own them.

Believe me, I know and have known plenty of staunch Southern Republicans who reject the idea that "merit is colorblind," and would snort derisively at the very notion of turning the other cheek. And I've certainly never seen a lick of evidence that folks on the right believe in hard work more than those on the left. Laziness is a character trait, it's not yoked to one's political philosophy.

And if conservatives are so much more pro-"loving family" (as if liberals were utterly indifferent to theirs!), why are the states with the highest divorce rates mostly red and the states with the fewest mainly blue?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I wonder how many of today's leftist "progressives" also know that Jackie was a staunch capitalist? He helped to found Freedom National Bank and was adamant that blacks form pools of capital to build black-owned businesses. He never really joined the ranks of those who felt that the "man" had to be punished first by providing "stuff" in order to atone for his "guilt." I am old enough to have great memories of Jackie Robinson at Ebbets Field and sincerely believe that today he would be a great fan of Herman Cain, Ben Carson, and Charles Payne.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sports in general teaches us to turn the other cheek, not to be controlled by the bullies, as the left would have us do, but rather to beat them on the field. When the other team is playing dirty, don't stoop to their level- win instead.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is also a good article in today’s WSJ that ends with this quote, “I can testify to the fact that it was a lot harder to turn the other cheek and refuse to fight back than it would have been to exercise a normal reaction”, “But it works, because sooner or later it brings a sense of shame to those who attack you. And that sense of shame is often the beginning of progress.”
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
an excellent movie capturing the times and events.

And what Jackie went through, should put to shame black leaders, race pimps and hustlers that by their actions denigrate the incredible accomplishment of this man, and what he went through so others wouldn't.

But now we get excuses for evil behavior, we get lies to promote agendas and we get families that don't exist, which is the key to success in the world because growing up poor is one of the surest ways to maintain oneself in poverty.

And Jackie didn't make excuses, he excelled.

Reminds me of Buck O'Neill who was excluded from MLB, and when I had asked him if he was bitter, as so many blacks seem to be, he told me he was too busy living his life and didn't have time to waste it on non productive activities.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
These values are long gone.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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