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This is a guest post by Emily Kesel.

Throughout Major League Baseball today, a remarkable ballplayer will be remembered, but more importantly, a great man’s legacy will be celebrated. Never has Jackie Robinson Day been more in the minds of baseball fans than now because of the recently released “42: The True Story of an American Legend.” On the face of it, the latest Jackie Robinson biographical film is a baseball movie. Robinson is obviously known as the legendary ballplayer who broke baseball’s so-called “color barrier” in 1947, but this film proves that he was, and can still be, a hero to all.

Directed by Brian Helgeland and featuring incredible, emotional performances from Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, and Nicole Beharie, this film goes beyond being just a baseball movie to touch the hearts of anyone watching. Baseball fans will enjoy seeing the history of the game and the in-game action, and others can be just as entertained and inspired as well. The story opens with legendary Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (Ford), who has an idea to bring in more African-American fans to baseball by signing the league’s first Negro player. It is obviously a controversial decision; even those on Rickey’s own staff try to talk him out of it, but Rickey backs down to no one. He wants to sign the Negro League’s Kansas City Monarch’s Jackie Robinson (Boseman), a five-tool player who has been known to stand up against the racism he faces throughout his life. Branch signs Robinson, despite uproar from the baseball community, and the rest of the film highlights the struggles of Major League Baseball’s first black player.

The film does a great job of showing that even though Jackie was the only black player at the time, he was not facing anything alone. Branch, Jackie’s wife Rachel (Beharie), and African-American reporter Wendell Smith (Andre Holland) are with him throughout the ups and downs of his first two years in “white baseball.” These people were essential to Jackie’s success, often called upon to help him remember to be the bigger man when racists and bigots tried to cut him down. These relationships were one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film, showing personal a side of Jackie Robinson that many casual fans have never known. Despite being a film that highlights tense race relations in the pre- civil rights era, it manages to stay light-hearted. There are many moments of humor throughout the movie, most of which are cleverly delivered lines by the brilliant Harrison Ford. In addition to the humor, there are many moments that will make any viewer want to stand up and clap for Robinson and the Dodgers, most notably when a teammate stands up for him because he’s not allowed to do so himself.

Action, relationships, humor, inspiration—all these elements come together in this film, making for an unforgettable experience whether or not you’re a baseball fan. This is a must-see movie for anyone that has played a sport or that has faced some type of discrimination in pursuit of their dreams. Jackie Robinson was truly an inspiring athlete and man, and it is only right that we honor him on the field today. When the players take the field today, it is almost certain they will all be proud to wear the number 42.