Greetings everyone and welcome to a special edition of “The Outsiders Guide To The Inside Of Hollywood’. This blog is dedicated to a courageous hero who forever changed the game of baseball. Unfortunately everyone my age or younger never got to see him play or even speak. The individual I’m talking about is Jackie Robinson. Luckily for us Jackie’s story has been told to us in the new film from Warner Brothers films “42”. On June 9th, I had the honor of covering the premiere of “42”. The film tells the story of how Jackie, became the first African American to play in Major League Baseball in the modern era. Robinson broke the baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base on April 15, 1947.
Before the carpet started I had some flashbacks to my youth. Growing up in Yonkers New York (15 minutes from Yankee Stadium) in the mid to late 70’s my dad took me to a number of Yankee games. One of my fondest memories attending a game was the 1981 American League Championship series against Oakland. My hero at the time was Reggie Jackson. Right around that time was the first I had heard of Jackie. I couldn’t imagine Reggie, Dave Winfield, or any player not being able to play because the color of their skin.
When I first got tip sheet for the “42” premiere, Harrison Ford was the only person I knew. For some reason the studio decided on a black carpet instead of a Dodger Blue or a green one shaped like a baseball field like Sonny had at the “Moneyball” premiere, in Oakland. The biggest problem with the carpet was it was also an early one. The actors were looking right into the sun and many took shots in-between the billboards in the shade. One publicist used herself as a shield to block the sun from her client walking the carpet.
One of the first arrivals was a pleasant surprise but not a shocker. Baseball fanatic Alyssa Milano. She was dressed in white and looked amazing. A few minutes later I was sent back in time and supper stocked to see former Yankees Dave Winfield and Rich Goose Gossage. I had to tell my fellow photographers who they were. Another familiar face former player and sportscaster Joe Morgan walked by and I called out his name as he stopped for a photo.He then was followed by another baseball legend Hank Aaron. By the time Harrison Ford Showed up the crowd across the street was getting larger. Ford arrived with his wife Calista Flockhart. Harrison then went across the street to sign autographs for the fans while his wife walked the carpet. After that he then walked with his wife and the films star Chadwick Boseman.
I saw the film on Jackie Robinson Day and it was incredible. The film opens with a little voice over history, it jumps right to Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford) decision to bring Jackie to the Dodgers minor league system and then to the Brooklyn Dodgers. The film shows the racism and bigotry that Robinson faced. I attended the film with two of my friends and their kid Ben, who had just turned 7 the previous day. Ben might have been too young to see the film because of the language, but wanted to see the movie because he plays on a team in the valley. Ben who normally is vey silent when watching a film or Netflix, was very talkative during the beginning. He first couldn’t understand why there were two baseball leagues with one strictly for white players and another for African Americans only. The other scene that was hard to understand was when waiters refused to have Jackie eat at there restaurant or the whites only bathrooms that were in some of the movies scenes. His parents and I answered a few of his questions but you could tell that he was still a little confused. What I love so much about baseball is how it has been handed down from one generation to the next. it hard to think of what the world would have been like if Jackie didn’t break the color barrier. Luckily we will never know.
Thank you for joining me on a different kind of blog than I normally do. I’ve had a long LA trip filled with events that I’m behind. My next blog that will be posted on tomorrow will be on WonderCon, Days of the Dead conventions and covering then meeting Gwyneth Paltrow, at her LA Cook Book signing. You can follow me on twitter at https://twitter.com/Jonathanshensa or on Facebook here: www.facebook.com/jonathan.shensa.