Rickey to attend, discuss ‘42’ film


Ohio Wesleyan University’s 2019-2020 Sagan National Colloquium will explore the many ways OWU alumni are working to change the world.

“Building on our listing as one of the ‘Colleges that Change Lives,’ the series will ask OWU graduates how Ohio Wesleyan introduced them to the world and how they see their place in the world now,” said associate professor of history Ellen Arnold, director of this year’s colloquium. “Alumni from across OWU’s history will return to campus to share their inspiring stories.”

Titled “OWU: Our World Needs You,” the colloquium will kick off at 6 p.m. Aug. 26 with a screening and discussion of the Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures film “42,” starring Harrison Ford as 1904 Ohio Wesleyan alumnus Branch Rickey and Chadwick Boseman as Jackie Robinson. The free community event will be held in Gray Chapel inside University Hall, 61 S. Sandusky St., Delaware.

“42” tells the Rickey-Robinson story – a historic collaboration that ended racial segregation in Major League Baseball and helped set the stage for the U.S. Civil Rights movement.

Signing Robinson fulfilled a promise that Rickey made to himself as an Ohio Wesleyan student and baseball coach. In 1903, when Rickey witnessed the despair of player Charles Thomas after Thomas was denied hotel lodging while traveling with his white teammates, Rickey vowed he would help end segregation, if ever given the opportunity.

More than 40 years later, as president and general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rickey signed Robinson, who took the field wearing No. 42 during his first Major League game on April 15, 1947. Rickey later helped to integrate Hispanics into baseball when, as general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, he drafted Roberto Clemente in 1954. In recognition of Rickey’s contributions, ESPN honored him posthumously as the “Most Influential Sports Figure of the 20th Century.”

The movie screening will be followed by a discussion with Rickey’s grandson, Branch B. Rickey, a 1967 OWU graduate and president of Minor League Baseball’s Pacific Coast League.

Of the film, the younger Rickey recently told SportsTravel writer Jason Gewirtz: “I think Harrison Ford deserves extraordinary credit for the time and effort he took to change his resemblance to look like my grandfather and for the spirit of which he went after the role. … I think it’s wonderful from a grandson’s point of view that they stayed so true to the integrity of who Branch Rickey was.”

Ohio Wesleyan’s 2019-2020 Sagan National Colloquium will run throughout the fall semester. For the latest schedule of “OWU: Our World Needs You” events, visit www.owu.edu/snc.

Now in its 35th year, the Sagan National Colloquium seeks annually to address in-depth an issue of national or global importance. The colloquium is funded by an endowment from 1948 OWU alumni Margaret Pickett Sagan and John Sagan, both deceased. Past colloquium speakers have included social activist Gloria Steinem, authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Kurt Vonnegut, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, and former President Gerald Ford.


Special to The Gazette

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