Very similar scenes occur in both the 1950 The Jackie Robinson Story and its 2013 remake, 42. Both movies depict the story of Branch Rickey introducing the first African-American, Jackie Robinson, to the big-leagues. While certainly not the first black baseball star, he was the first to start on a major league team.
The story begins in Branch Rickey’s office. It is their first meeting. Rickey asks, “What do you think, Jackie? Do you got guts enough to play the game no matter what happens? They’ll shout insults at you. They’ll come into you spikes first. They’ll throw at your head.”
“They’ve been throwing at my head for a long time, Mr. Rickey,” Robinson responds.
Rickey fabricates a scenario: “Suppose I’m a player on the eve of an important game. Suppose I collide with you at second base, and when I get up I say, ‘You, you dirty black so-and-so.’ What do you do?”
“Mr. Rickey, do you want a ballplayer who’s afraid to fight back?” Robinson asks. Rickey answers emphatically, “I want a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back. You’ve got to do the job with base hits, stolen bases, and fielding ground balls, Jackie. Nothing else.
The 2013 version of the film does a marvelous job of showing the humility and non-retaliatory spirit of Jackie Robinson. Rickey was correct. Robinson was ill-treated on numerous occasions. But he proved that a non-retaliation, responding with a kind and composed spirit, can win the day.
Since those films were made, two books have been researched and written that clearly establish that both Rickey and Robinson were men of faith. It appears Robinson’s deep and meaningful faith led him to the kind of reactions that proved other men the lesser.