Reporting Dave Crawley
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In April of 1947 Jackie Robinson stepped onto the field and the game was changed forever.
The movie “42″ tells the dramatic story of the man who broke through baseball’s color barrier. But it also tells a Pittsburgh story.
He’s an athlete who earned the title: sports hero.
Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford star as Jackie Robinson and Dodgers’ president Branch Rickey, who signed him up.
But there’s another story here.
Unlike most previous films on Jackie Robinson, this one emphasizes the major role played by one of his strongest supporters – a Pittsburgh newspaper man by the name of Wendell Smith.
Andre Holland plays the late sports editor of the famed Pittsburgh Courier.
Managing Editor Ulish Carter says the Courier led the campaign for black players in baseball.
“At that time, the Pittsburgh Courier was the largest black newspaper in the country,” said Carter. “They had anywhere from 250 to 350 circulation, not just in Pittsburgh, primarily throughout the country. My understanding is that Wendell Smith is the one who got the information to Branch Rickey about this kid.”
Athletic ability was secondary to Robinson’s grace under unthinkable pressure.
“If Robinson had exploded one time – that would have been it. So they had to have both. And that’s what they really pushed and pushed hard,” said Carter.
Jackie Robinson laid it on the line and so did Wendell Smith.