Liverpool The new biographical feature film about Jackie Robinson declined to depict the infamous incident in which Syracuse Chiefs ballplayers taunted the black baseball pioneer by throwing a black cat onto the playing field. For decades, legend had it that the incident occurred at Syracuse’s MacArthur Stadium, but historical evidence indicates otherwise.
For the tenth year in a row, professional baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, when every pro baseball player in America marks the occasion by wearing his uniform number, 42.
This year Hollywood also jumped on the bandwagon with the release of “42,” starring Chadwick Boseman as Jackie and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, the Dodgers executive who brought Robinson to the big leagues and changed baseball forever.
Directed by Brian Helgeland (“Mystic River”), the Robinson biopic will be screened at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, at the Liverpool Public Library. Admission is free and refreshments will be served; lpl.org.
Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson became the first black major-leaguer of baseball’s modern era when he played first base and scored a run for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947, at Ebbets Field, as the home team beat the Boston Braves, 5-3.
Black cat incident not in Syracuse
The year before, however, Robinson honed his skills in the International League as a member of the Montreal Royals.
As an International Leaguer in 1946, Robinson played in 17 games against Syracuse Chiefs, 12 during the regular season and five during the Governors’ Cup playoffs. Nine of his games against the Chiefs were played at Syracuse’s MacArthur Stadium and eight were played in Montreal.
Robinson found the Chiefs particularly nasty.
In his two autobiographies — “My Own Story” (1948) and “I Never Had it Made” (1972) — Robinson remembered, “Syracuse rode me harder than any other city in the circuit. They were tough on me both on the field and in the stands.” He recalled an incident in which a Chiefs player threw a live, black cat onto the diamond and shouted, “Hey, Robinson, here’s your cousin!”