Major League Baseball celebrated a very special anniversary early in 2013. On April 15th, 2013, fans and players of America’s Past Time celebrated the sixty-sixth anniversary of Brooklyn Dodgers great and groundbreaking player Jackie Robinson’s very first ever major league game. It was on April 15th, 1947 that Robinson broke the color barrier and became the first ever African-American to play major league baseball. Every year since that day, Major League Baseball has celebrated Jackie Robinson day on the anniversary of his first game. This year, the anniversary has been celebrated with more than just celebrations at baseball fields across the country. It was also celebrated with a major motion picture focusing on Robinson’s life and a documentary from Shout! Factory that was even more enjoyable than the prior. Now MLB Productions has joined in the celebration with its own documentary on Robinson. Whereas the previous releases focused largely on Robinson’s life, this latest release, Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson focuses exactly on its title; Robinson’s own thoughts put to paper.
Letters From Jackie: The Private Thoughts of Jackie Robinson is a good companion piece to the previously released pair of works from Warner Brothers and Shout! Factory. The first thing that makes this documentary stand out is its run time. It comes in at just forty-five minutes long. This is not counting the end credits, either. Within that short time-span, the story presented moves at a relatively fast pace. It’s not too fast for viewers to keep up with the story, either. And within the context of the production, viewers will be moved to both laughter and tears, hearing Robinson’s words read.
The letters written by Jackie Robinson are both moving and at times entertaining. Most moving of all is the story of Robinson’s years-long communications with a young white fan, Ron Rabinovitz. The pen pals’ ongoing letter writing led to a friendship that transcended skin color and even religious backgrounds. It was a friendship based solely on two individuals’ love of the game of baseball. Rabinovitz himself even gets to share his thoughts on the letters shared between himself and Robinson. The fondness with which he remembers Robinson is both entertaining and moving. Audiences will be brought to smiles hearing Rabinovitz discuss Robinson actually taking him into the Dodgers’ locker room to meet his team mates at the time. He even presents the baseball signed by Robinson’s team mates. The really funny moment of that story is when Rabinovitz reveals that Robinson was so caught up in introducing his team mates to Rabinovitz and getting them to sign the ball, that he forgot to sign the ball himself. Rabinovitz adds, laughing that he didn’t mind because he had so many other items (noting the letters) signed by Robinson. Viewers even get to see Rabinovitz sharing his memories with one of today’s greats at the 2013 Jackie Robinson Day pre-game.
Rabinovitz shares so many wonderful memories of one of baseball’s greatest names though his interviews. Along with the stories are pictures of the pair posing together on the field. They help to add even more interest to the story of Robinson’s own thoughts on how he was viewed during his career. Those pictures aren’t the only ones shared throughout this near hour-long feature. Those charged with bringing the program to life also incorporated footage from The Jackie Robinson Story as well as footage from games that he played during his career. The footage shows both the good and bad of the people who came to the games to see Robinson play. That footage set against Robinson’s own thoughts on fan support and the lack thereof makes these moments even more interesting for any real baseball history buff.
Whether for the stories shared of Robinson by his family and friends or for the footage of the baseball legend’s career, baseball fans have plenty for which to root in this companion piece to the year’s previously released Robinson tributes. Audiences will of course find their own interesting and entertaining moments throughout the story. Being that Major League Baseball is coming up to the annual celebration of the halfway point of its season, thoughts will go back to one of the original All-Stars. And as thoughts go back to him, this latest story will make for another good look back at that legend in question. It will be available next Tuesday, July 16th. It can be ordered online at the MLB Productions store at http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=21611606.
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