Will `42` inspire more black youth to play baseball? - FOX 35 News Orlando

Will `42` inspire more black youth to play baseball?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

On Friday, baseball players from the South Side were joined by black leaders for a special movie event: the premiere of the new Jackie Robinson biography, "42."

Ironically, major league baseball has just announced a plan to increase the ranks of black players, which peaked decades ago.

The life and legacy of Jackie Robinson--the first black man to play Major League Baseball--is a little boy's dream. On Friday, it played out on big screens across the nation.

"42" opened in theaters Friday and for Devonte Stewart and his son, there was no place they'd rather be.

"I know that he's a baseball player and that he played for the White Sox," Stewart's 5-year-old son says.

"What I want them to get is a strong sense of perseverance," Stewart says. "How to push forward through any type of issue, challenges, barriers. To know that the harder you work, the more impactful it is for yourself and the more worthwhile it is."

But Devonte Stewart didn't just bring his son; he brought other boys from the neighborhood. While this is Hollywood's story, the baseball coach says he talks to his players about everything Robinson endured to play the game he loved. While Robinson stood up against racism, black boys today are fighting each other.

"They're having interpersonal conflicts for stepping on sneakers, or because you come from this block or that block, when this man got spit on, got balls thrown on him, he couldn't eat in the same restaurants," Stewart says. "I want to let them to understand that the things that cause them trouble are very simple to walk away from."

"He inspired me to play baseball because hewas one black that didn't care what people say," one young boy says. "He was just grateful for whathe had and what he could do."

Young African American boys aren't playing baseball as much as in the past. For the first time since number 42 put on his jersey, African-Americans in the major league are underrepresented--so much so, the commissioner of the major league is asking that a study be conducted to investigate why.

Some say players have lost their love for the game, while others say its lack of resources in the black community.

Devonte Stewart says he isn't buying that.

"It's a declining interest and us adults, we take the fault on that," Stewart says. "This is America's favorite past time. Why wasn't it passed down generationally?"

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