Jackie Robinson was the first African-American Major League Baseball player. He wore "42" on his uniform for the Brooklyn Dodgers, a number that has since been retired by every MLB team in his honor. Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson in the new biopic, 42, and he came in to talk with Weekend Edition Saturday Host Scott Simon about the playing such a legend.
"If you don't steal bases like him and put pressure on the pitcher the same way he did, you're not playing Jackie Robinson," Boseman told NPR of the pressure that came with this. He had to get it right, down to the batting and running styles, so he watched a lot of tape and worked with baseball coaches for the role.
Playing the infielder wasn't just a physical challenge however. He also tells Simon about the difficulty, embarrassment, and anger he felt at hearing racial slurs and seeing "whites only" signs, both on and off the movie set.
"There was a real 'Whites Only' and 'Colored' sign on this gas station [in Macon, Ga.]. Like, they painted one for the movie, but there was already one there that was painted over... we've made a lot of strides. But some of those things are still right in front of us." he said. But it also makes him think of the courage Robinson had, and using that courage to play Robinson, and carrying it with him to future roles.
Boseman may not have a number retired in his honor just yet, but he's certainly made our hall of fame. Here he is, showing his love for NPR.