DAYTONA BEACH – Will the success at the box office of “42,” the movie based on the life of Jackie Robinson, translate into success at the box office for the Daytona Cubs, the minor-league baseball team whose ballpark bears his name?
If it does, it won’t be measured tonight on the 66th anniversary of Robinson’s major-league debut as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Cubs, a Class A Florida State League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, are on a five-game road trip and won’t play their next home game until Thursday night.
But another tenant of Jackie Robinson Ballpark, which was renamed that in 1989 after being known as City Island Park since it was built in 1914, already got the jump on a tie-in to the movie. Bethune-Cookman University offered free admission on Saturday and Sunday to its games against North Carolina Central to fans presenting a ticket stub from “42.”
The movie, which stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, earned an estimated $27.3 million nationwide in its first weekend. Robinson’s first exhibition game, which is regarded as when he integrated the sport with the Montreal Royals, took place in Daytona Beach on March 17, 1946. A significant early part of the film centers on when he and his wife, Rachel, arrived from California.
While the scene of the team bus pulling into downtown Daytona Beach appears realistic, that and the baseball scenes were shot in Macon, Ga., and enhanced with computer imaging. The addition during the 1970s of concrete grandstands along the third-base side would not have made for a believable backdrop, so Luther Williams Field in Macon was used instead.
Jackie Robinson Ballpark is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.