By Mark Ellis
The biographical film “42” depicts Jackie Robinson’s courageous battle to break the color barrier in major league baseball. At the same time, the film provides a glimpse of his religious faith, which afforded the strength he needed to overcome fierce opposition.
“It took two Christians to pull this off,” says Chris Lamb, the author of “Blackout: The Untold Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Spring Training” (University of Nebraska, 2004). “Robinson was a Christian and Branch Rickey was a Christian,” he notes. “Sometimes we miss this.”
Lamb was blind to it himself until he researched Robinson’s life for his book. “I kept wondering all these years what kept Robinson together,” he says. “Finally I realized what I missed before – the core came from above.”
The film accurately depicts the role of Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey in advancing desegregation in baseball. Rickey, a devout Methodist, was sometimes known as “the deacon” due to his forthright convictions.
“It was in every part of him,” Lamb says. “He spoke often about his religion. You could see him across the room and even with the cigar smoke, there was a warm glow.”