Monday, April 15, 2013

42: Life, the Universe and Jackie Robinson (and Harrison Ford walking the red carpet)

We stood alongside the red carpet at 42's KC premiere.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 at 4:04 PM

In Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the number 42 was the answer to life, the universe and everything. It was pretty important here in Kansas City last week, too.

Jackie Robinson wore No. 42 when he played 10 seasons for the Brooklyn Dodgers. (Today is Jackie Robinson Day, when every MLB player wears the long-retired number on his jersey, in tribute to Robinson.) And that number is the title of the new Robinson biopic, which opened in theaters Friday and took in $27 million over the weekend to get to first place at the box office.

Though 42 wasn't shot in KC, the movie recalls Robinson's time with the Kansas City Monarchs, a dominant Negro Leagues team, before he joined the major league on April 15, 1947. So a mix of Hall of Fame players, Hollywood names (including 42 top-liner Harrison Ford) and local big shots came out for a red-carpet premiere at the AMC BarryWoods 24. The event was a fundraiser for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and The Pitch was there to see stars Chadwick Boseman (who plays Robinson), Ford (who plays Dodgers GM Branch Rickey) and Andre Holland (Wendell Smith, the first African-American journalist allowed into major-league press boxes). That's Boseman and Ford at right; video after the jump.


My crew (producer-videographer Val Anderson and editor Marshal Wyatt of Outpost Worldwide) didn't have the cash or influence to watch the film inside with former Kansas City Star and now NBC Sports columnist Joe Posnanski, whose discussion with Ford and others was part of the premium for those who bought the big-dollar tickets.

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But, out in the cold, we got the chance to shout questions to former Royal Willie Wilson, current Royal Luis Mendoza, Hall of Famer and St. Louis Cardinal Lou Brock, Bob Kendrick (president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum), Mayor Sly James, Robinson's son David Robinson (above), Holland and Ford.
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We also got to meet Teal Williams and Heather Anderson Feagans (above), whose late father, Bill Anderson, went to high school in Chicago with his carpooling friend "Harry Ford." To prove that their dad did know the Oscar nominee, they showed me his yearbooks that "Harry" signed. They held a large sign hoping that the actor who immortalized Han Solo and Indiana Jones would notice.
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He did. And he even left the red carpet with Boseman to sign posters and re-sign the yearbook. Ford may look cranky in our clip, but after signing hundreds of autographs and fielding questions from folks like me, it was understandable if he got a little impatient when I bellowed my less-than-original query.

The museum now has a jersey that Boseman wore in 42. Considering how that number changed both the sport and the nation forever, perhaps 42 really is the answer to life, the universe and everything.

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