The film 42: The True Story of an American Legend will be in theaters on April 12. The movie, starring Chadwick Boseman and Nicole Beharie, gives viewers a glimpse of what life was like for Jackie and Rachel Robinson leading up to the breaking of baseball's color line in 1947.
Robinson's legacy certainly has endured, but the man who played No. 42 in the movie endured thanks to a little help from a stunt double. Jasha Balcom ran the bases and played the infield in many scenes, and in doing so, learned a little bit about the real Jackie Robinson.
“Having the opportunity to be a part of that was amazing,” said Balcom, who played baseball at the University of Georgia before being drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 33rd round in 2003. Balcom’s professional career came to an end before he reached the majors, but he made a name for himself as a base-stealer – giving him the credentials to land the role.
“I stole a lot of bases in the organization, and being able to show the athleticism that Jackie had... Those are definitely some of the qualities the director saw in me, and he gave me the role,” Balcom said.
At one point during the filming, Balcom got to wear one of Robinson's actual uniform shirts. In order to prepare for the role, Balcom watched archival film and The Jackie Robinson Story, the autobiographical movie Robinson made in 1950, playing himself.
“Looking at some of the footage - the way he slid, the way he would hold the bat, and the way he carried himself around the bases,” Balcom explains. "I've always just admired him."
When he’s not running the bases in a Brooklyn Dodgers’ uniform, Balcom runs the Hitter's Box baseball training facility, where he instructs young players. Balcom believes 42 will have an impact on the generation of players he now coaches.
“Just to teach this next generation about that, about what he did and having this movie out there, I think it’s going to be in history books and classrooms for the next 50, 60 years,” Balcom says.
This segment aired on April 6, 2013.