Movie Details

This original HBO production documents, in dramatic form, the rivalry between Jackie Robinson, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson to see who would be the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. Paige (played by Delroy Lindo) and Gibson (Mykelti Williamson) are more aggressive about seizing the opportunity that arose in the mid-'40s with the death of baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who had publicly avowed that the color line in baseball would never be broken. Branch Rickey (Edward Herrmann), the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is the first to seize that opportunity, sending his scouts to check out all the stars of the Negro Leagues. He narrows his choice down to Robinson, in part because of Paige's age (he was around 40) and Gibson's health (he behaved erratically in public, though it rarely affected his game). Rickey was looking for a player with the talent to compete in the big leagues and the character not to allow the inevitable harassment that would come his way to get to him. Robinson was signed in October 1945 and made his big-league debut in April 1947. Paige made it to the big leagues in 1948; Gibson died at the age of 36 in 1947 of a brain tumor. ~ Tom Wiener, Rovi