Levine: The historical quirks of “42”

From SABR member Zachary Levine at Baseball Prospectus on April 16, 2013:

Chadwick Boseman’s Jackie Robinson hit right-handed, and for preserving historical accuracy in translation to money-making film, that’s an awfully good place to start.

Where 42, the Jackie Robinson story, meanders from there in its devotion to the actual baseball events of 1945-47 is fairly close to the truth line. There are of course the controversies over some of the perhaps apocryphal tales, like whether Pee Wee Reese ever put his arm around Jackie Robinson on the field in Cincinnati.

But in terms of the recorded baseball events—timing of team vs. team matchups, correctness of players, etc., the movie does fairly well. The baseball scenes and the depiction of old ballparks are terrific too.

After seeing it in the first showing the day it came out, I found myself in somewhat of a research vortex over at Baseball-Reference.com, which has the accurate, non-Hollywoodized version of the 1947 season nailed. What I found there and in some subsequent library research was that the movie did lead us astray on brief occasion, and even when it didn’t, there are just some cool little baseball things that a two-hour movie mostly about race would have no time or real reason to address.

So starting with the only major correction in the baseball data, here are some things about Jackie Robinson’s 1947 that may do a little bit of spoiling but tell us more of the baseball side of 42.

Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=20246

Originally published: April 16, 2013. Last Updated: April 16, 2013.