Did players flip bats in the 1940s?

40 Comments

I posted the link to the trailer for the new “42” movie last night.  Here is again. Watch it, and then join below for a brief discussion:

Since that came out, a couple of topics of conversation have popped up.

First: Do we like what we can see of Harrison Ford’s Branch Rickey? Last night I suggested that it was actual acting instead of Leading Manning from Ford, which is something we haven’t seen from him in ages.  But now that I’ve watched it a few times, I’m struck by how his first lines of dialogue — starting at the :30 mark and going through :47 — in the trailer make it seem like he’s doing an impression of Heath Ledger doing The Joker.  Interesting choice.

Second: at the 1:03 mark or so, Robinson hits a homer and flips the bat.  People on Twitter are wondering — as am I — if bat flipping as a means of defiance was a thing in the 1940s. Or, alternatively, are the filmmakers retconning some attitude to Robinson that wasn’t really there.

It’s all interesting, mostly because Robinson has sorta been canonized in a way that has, regretfully, robbed him of his humanity in the public imagination. Dude probably wasn’t always a saint, whether or not people flipped bats back in the 1940s.

Anyway, now would be a good time for me to go find a good Jackie Robinson biography.