Advanced screening of Ken Burns “Jackie Robinson” documentary film coming to Springfield College

Patrick Kenney

jackie robinson 2
Photo courtesy of Springfield College Archives.

Tonight Jackie Robinson will return to campus, this time on the big screen.

Springfield College will be hosting a pre-screening of “Jackie Robinson,” a documentary directed by legendary filmmaker Ken Burns, along with Sarah Burns and David McMahon (not the man here on campus). The 45-minute sneak preview will take place at Fuller Arts at 7 p.m.

Burns is a national acclaimed documentary filmmaker known for his use of archival footage and pictures throughout his films, which have covered topics such as the Civil War, the history of baseball, and jazz. His 2010 film, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” won an Emmy, one of a slew of awards in his career.

This film looks back at the life of the man who broke the color barrier in professional baseball. Springfield College will be one of only a few places across the country to host such a screening.

“It fits [Springfield] because it combines two things that are very important to campus: sports and social justice,” said Communications Professor Marty Dobrow. “The most interesting part however is that [Springfield] has that connection to Robinson.”

Tucked away on the second floor of Babson Library lies a framed photograph of a man considered by many to be the most important in baseball history: Jackie Robinson.

As part of the campus (and even country)-wide celebration of Amos Alonzo Stagg’s (former Springfield College football coach, member of the original basketball team and inventor of the huddle) 100th birthday, Robinson is depicted speaking to a crowd of mostly youth sports participants, summer faculty members and interested people from the community.

The photo, considered by many, even Robinson himself, to be the best off-field picture of the Hall of Famer, was taken by Springfield College student Spero Coulacos (’59) on August, 16 1962, the only time Robinson stepped foot on the Springfield College campus.

Having just been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, N.Y,, Robinson arrived for an event for Stagg that showcased a cross of two separate legends.

“Stagg is not just a Springfield College athletic legend but his fame is national,” said Dobrow. “Stagg is in both the College Football and Basketball Hall of Fame. He was in the original basketball game, and he coached until he was 84. ”

For Stagg’s 100th birthday celebration there were 10 events throughout the country, one of them being the one at Springfield College.

Now Robinson is back, but this time in celebration of his life and his accomplishments.

The full four-hour film will air April 11 and 12 on PBS, two hours each night.

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