Last updated: July 24. 2013 1:56PM - 437 Views
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WAYNE ALLEN


PDT Staff Writer


Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures previously announced April 13, 2013, as the release date for their upcoming film “42.” Last week the official movie trailer was released.


The official trailer can be found at http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/.


The movie tells the story of Scioto County native Branch Rickey as he drafts Jackie Robinson to be the first black player to the join Major League Baseball in 1947.


The film stars Academy Award nominee Harrison Ford (“Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Air Force One,”) as Branch Rickey, and Chadwick Boseman (“The Express”) as Robinson. Also starring are Nicole Beharie (“Shame”) Christopher Meloni (upcoming “Man of Steel”) and T.R. Knight (TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy”).


Thus far filming has been done in Georgia and Alabama.


Last week in an interview with USA Today, Ford said he was impressed with Rickey as a person.


“The more research I did, the more impressed I was,” Ford said.”What interested me was their (Rickey and Robinson) relationship. They had these indomitable spirits, but very disparate personalities.”


The film is expected to open in time to commemorate the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson Day celebrating his first Major League game. The film also opens in time for the start of the 2013 Major League Baseball season.


Born in Scioto County in 1881, Wesley Branch Rickey was many things: a school teacher, a college and professional baseball and football player, coach, lawyer and a soldier. He received three college degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, and began his career by joining the St. Louis Browns as secretary in 1912. He became president of the St. Louis Cardinals in 1917, and saw the team to six pennants and four World Series titles. During this time, he organized the baseball farm system.


In 1942, he moved to Brooklyn as president of the Dodgers. It was there that Rickey made arguably his greatest contribution to professional sports and civil rights movement by signing African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson to play for the Dodgers in 1947. That moment is the inspiration behind this movie by Legendary Pictures.


Robinson was the 1947 Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year, 1948 National League Most Valuable Player, six-time All-Star, and played for the Dodgers until 1956. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.


Rickey left the Dodgers in 1950 to become vice president of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he was elected chairman of the board at Pittsburgh in 1955. Four years later he was tapped to be president of the Continental Baseball League, which never materialized. He retired in 1960 to write a book, and returned to the Cardinals as a consultant in 1962.


Rickey died in 1965 and is buried in Rushtown Cemetery in Scioto County.


Because of Rickey’s connection to Scioto County, State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson, R-McDermott, has gotten a section of U.S. 23 in Scioto County be named after Rickey. Johnson’s proposal is a part of a larger road naming bill, House Bill 448, that is being considered by the Ohio House of Representatives.


“Southern Ohio and Scioto County in particular has a rich and amazing history. So many things have happened here; so many great people were born and raised here. Branch Rickey, a national baseball great, is one such person. We can all take pride in what he did for our national pastime. His actions advanced and improved the sport, and he was certainly an ambassador for baseball and for the merits of strong and fair competition through athletics, regardless of race. But more than that, through his character and convictions and through the example that he set on the national stage, he was ultimately an ambassador for southern Ohio. He came from here! He was one of us. … We can take great pride in that, and we can take pride in his memory through his memorialization along this stretch of highway that is so central to our community,” Johnson said at the time.


The Branch Rickey flood wall mural in Portsmouth was rededicated Aug. 28, 2011.


“August 28 is the day Branch Rickey signed the contract with Jackie Robinson,” said Bob Morton, president of the board of directors of Portsmouth Murals Inc. “We thought that would be a great day to rededicate the mural.”


About the same time, Portsmouth City Council approved Branch Rickey Way as a second name to Front Street.


A spokesperson from the studio did not return an e-mail seeking comment.


Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or wallen@heartlandpublications.com.

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