'42' worth seeing to learn about heroic Jackie Robinson

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I just saw "42," the movie about Jackie Robinson. Now I'm wondering: Should kids see it?

I'll admit that the film, rated PG-13, has some bad language, but "42" tells an important story that kids should know. One more thing: "42" is a terrific baseball movie.

The film tells about the 1946 and 1947 baseball seasons, when Robinson broke the major league ban on black players.

There was a time when African-Americans were not allowed to play baseball in the major leagues. Instead, they played in what were called the Negro leagues.

In 1946, Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, was looking for the right person to break the unofficial ban on black players. He knew that this player would have to be talented, because many white people thought African-Americans were not good enough to play in the major leagues.

Rickey also knew that the first player to break that barrier would have to have the guts not to fight back when players, coaches and fans called him every awful name imaginable. If Robinson, who wore number 42, had gotten into fights, people would have used it as an excuse to claim that African-Americans could not get along with white players.

Rickey, played in "42" by Harrison Ford, was right: When Robinson began playing for the Dodgers in 1947, he was called names, hit by pitches and left with cuts from the spiked shoes of opposing players. He received death threats and hate mail. Some of his own teammates did not want to play with a black man.

Robinson was a real hero because he had the courage to stick with what he thought was best for everyone. History proved him right.

"42" is a serious film, but it is also filled with great old baseball stuff. Notice the old ballparks, uniforms and gloves. The film also catches the speed of the game -- the fastball under the chin and the line drive to left center.

So talk to your parents about seeing "42." It's baseball, it's history and it's a very good movie.

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