Today is “42” day in Major League Baseball, where all the teams will join in honoring Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier back in 1947.
The new movie about his struggles “42” debuted this weekend at number one, making it the biggest baseball movie ever, in terms of opening week box office numbers. But is it the best baseball movie of all time?
It’s hard to say. While I enjoyed it’s look back into 1940’s America, with all it’s beauty and obvious social warts, I thought the movie lost Jackie’s soul at times, concentrating its look at Branch Rickey, the courageous Dodger’s owner who pretty much hand picked Robinson to break the barrier,and a seemingly limitless supply of ignorant fools who were hanging onto segregation as a way of life.
The tone of the movie won out, however, and I would place it up there in the Top 3 baseball movies of all time, behind “Eight Men Out” and “Field of Dreams”.
“Eight Men Out” — John Sayles look at the 1919 Black Sox scandal, where eight members of the Chicago White Sox were kicked out of baseball for gambling, is both a journey back in time, and a look at an often ignored of American capitalism: greed. Framing John Cusack’s Bucky Weaver as someone who was sympathetic to the teammates who “threw” the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, gave an even handed look at the influence of mob influenced gambling and greedy owners, who made huge sums of cash off often ignorant players.
“Field of Dreams” — If you didn’t cry when Ray Kinsella “had a catch” with his dad, you don’t have a soul.
What’s your favorite baseball movie?