LPL screens new biopic about the man who broke baseball’s color line       

— The new biopic, “42,” fails to depict the infamous incident. The 1950 film, “The Jackie Robinson Story,” presented a watered-down version in which two fans taunt him with a black cat before Robinson walks over to them, takes the cat into his dugout and pets it.

For many years legend had it that the “black cat incident” occurred at MacArthur Stadium.

In his written autobiographies, Robinson remembers the umpire calling time out until the frightened cat — his so-called “cousin” — was removed from the field. But here’s where Robinson’s memory located the cat commotion not in Syracuse but at Montreal’s old Delorimier Stadium:

“Following this incident, I doubled down the left field line,” Robinson wrote, “and when the next player singled to center, I scored. Passing the Syracuse dugout, I said to one of the players, ‘I guess my cousin is pretty happy now.’”

Chiefs historian Ron Gersbacher, who lives in Clay, believes the black cat incident occurred when the Chiefs faced the Royals in Montreal, and baseball box scores bear him out.

On Wednesday, Aug. 7, 1946, the Chiefs played a game at Delorimier Stadium when Robinson walloped a double and scored a run as the Royals overwhelmed the visitors, 9-4. On the other hand, there’s no record of Jackie smacking a two-bagger to left during the games he played at MacArthur Stadium that year, so the historical record strongly supports Gersbacher’s theory.

“That black cat in Syracuse story is baloney,” Gersbacher said. “It never happened except in [the 1950] Hollywood movie of Robinson’s story ... People saw the film and took it as fact.”

Regardless of where it happened, however, the feline fiasco still stands as a vivid and dramatic example of the kind of abuse directed at Robinson by intolerant fans and ballplayers alike.

Fifty years after the fact Chiefs second baseman Garton DelSavio told Post-Standard columnist Sean Kirst that his white teammates, several of whom hailed from the Deep South, “called Robinson some of the foulest names he’d ever heard, the worst things you can scream at another man.”

So the hostility was unpleasant and plentiful, but the prejudiced Syracuse Chiefs kept the cat in the bag until they came to Canada that summer.

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