! went to the movie "42" over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. Found out a lot about Jackie Robinson's career that I hadn't known before and wished it would have taken more of his life before signing with the Dodgers...as well as moving on past the first season when Roy Campanella and then Don Newcombe joined the team. Maybe there is a sequel in the offing.
I had read that many of the game scenes were shot at two ball parks - Engel Stadium in Chattanooga and Rickwood Field in Birmingham. Both parks are out of commision now. My first job out of college was as the "voice" of the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Birmingham Barons were in the Southern League too. I watched the film trying to spot two places I had called games and did, recognizing the grandstands from Chattanooga in a scene where Robinson and Rickey are talking about him playing in Brooklyn. I recognized the right field seats with a roof over them in a quick scene of one of Robinson's minor league games. All of the action from the old major league parks were shot in Chattanooga, but they used a green screen in the outfield and were able to computer generate in what the fences and skylines of the old major league stadiums looked like. Loved the baseball scenes with the old gloves, no batting helmets. They also got the old style of play down to a "T." They also did a terrific job copying the uniforms used in that 1947.
I only caught them in one missed fact. The movie claimed that Leo Durocher was suspended for a season by commissioner Happy Chandler for having an affair with a married actress Lorraine Day because of pressure from the Catholic Youth Organization. While the CYO did complain about that, the real reason Durocher was suspended for "his association with known gamblers."
A sign in the stadium for one of the spring training games in Florida that said "Colored" brought back a conversation I had in Chattanooga one night with a fan. There was an elderly black gentleman who sat in the same seat every night. One night as I was walking through the stands to get to the press box, I asked him if there was any significance to the seat he sat in every night. He told me that as a kid he used to come to Engel Stadium and had to sit in the “colored” section past the bases and that he always wanted to sit behind home plate. So when things changed that became his seat. As a 23 year old in 1986, it stunned me that the sections in the park were segregated. Engel Stadium was built in 1930 and in that time the stadium played host to all kinds of baseball, including the Chattanooga Choo-Choos, a team in the Negro Southern League that was a minor league team for the Negro Major League. The stadium wasn't in great shape in 1986...and in 2006 I returned with UMass to Chattanooga for the FCS Championship game and the stadium was full of weeds and looked like it was ready for the wrecking ball. But seeing it Saturday on the big screen it looked like it had been cleaned up some.
If you are a baseball fan you will enjoy "42" and will learn even more if you google some of the people and events portrayed. It was truly worth the $10 for me.