HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (CBS4) – Before 1947, baseball was a game played with a white ball by white men, but in the Summer of 47 that changed.

Jackie Robinson was the player picked to break the color barrier. He was hand-picked by Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey.

CBS4’s Gary Miller went to Hollywood to interview actors who are in a new film about Robinson — titled “42” — and he also found some Colorado Rockies players who are very excited to see it.

“(Rickey) was a baseball businessman. He wanted to get the best he could. There was a whole pool of talent — players in the Negro league. There was white baseball and black baseball at that time. He knew there were players in black baseball that were as talented or even more talented than the white players in his team,” actor Harrison Ford told Miller. Ford portrays Rickey in the film.

“He also knew — as he says in the film — dollars are not black and white. Every dollar is green,” Ford said. “He’s a man who had very strong moral and religious convictions, and in his past he had an experience with racism and the effect it had on people that he knew very well, and he wanted to do what he could to change that.”

Rickey chose Robinson because he needed a player talented enough to succeed and smart enough not to react to slings and arrows of fans, opponents and even umpires.

Jackie Robinson had the strength to not fight back. He simply did what he did best: played baseball. And in the process paving the way for so many others to follow in the decades since.

(credit: CBS)

Former Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe, left, and current player Matt Kemp, right (credit: CBS)

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him,” said Rockies outfielder Eric Young, Jr. “That in itself, speaks volumes, not only what he did on the field but off the field. He really moved the world into a new direction.”

Rockies’ Dexter Fowler said he’s “very excited about the new movie.”

“Without him, we’re African Americans, we wouldn’t be out here,” Fowler said. “Obviously, the racial thing is over, but, you know, it’s still opening up the gates for everybody.”

One thing that everyone agrees on is breaking baseball’s color barrier was a job that few could have done.

“Could you have gone through what he went through?” Miller asked former Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe said.

“Oh, no! Nobody could have. That was one of the things that Jackie is responsible for,” Newcombe said.

“There’s only one man who could have done that, and that was Jackie Robinson himself,” said current Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. “I’m a very outspoken person, and not the turn-the-cheek kind of guy. I couldn’t have been able to do that, that’s why I respect the man so much.

Chadwick Boseman, who portrays Robinson in the movie, said Robinson “did something that was extraordinary.”

“It had to be the right is person,” Boseman said. “It was one of those things where everything came together at the right time, you know? And he was the right person. I think Rickey was the right owner. The Dodgers, Brooklyn, you know, all those factors, and I definitely think, that, you know, it was an extraordinary thing that I don’t see myself doing. I’m glad I live in this time.

LINK: 42 – The Movie


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