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Soul of the Game

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Title: Soul of the Game  
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Subject: Jackie Robinson, Delroy Lindo, Blair Underwood, Erika Flores, Kevin Rodney Sullivan
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Soul of the Game

Soul of the Game
Directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Produced by Robert Papazian
Written by Gary Hoffman (story)
David Himmelstein (teleplay)
Starring Blair Underwood
Delroy Lindo
Mykelti Williamson
Edward Herrmann
R. Lee Ermey
Harvey Williams
Music by Lee Holdridge
Cinematography Sandi Sissel
Edited by Victor Du Bois
Distributed by HBO
Release dates
  • April 20, 1996 (1996-04-20)
Running time 94 min.
Country United States
Language English

Soul of the Game is a 1996 made-for-television movie about Negro league baseball.

The film starred Blair Underwood as Jackie Robinson, Delroy Lindo as Satchel Paige, Mykelti Williamson as Josh Gibson, and Harvey Williams as "Cat" Mays, the father of Willie Mays. The film depicts Paige and Gibson as the pitching and hitting stars, respectively, of the Negro Leagues in the period immediately following World War II. Robinson is an up-and-coming player on Paige's team, the Kansas City Monarchs.

Synopsis

Branch Rickey, played by Edward Herrmann, is the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers who is determined to integrate Major League Baseball. He begins sending his scouts to Negro League games to find the best players. Rickey directs his scouts to look not only at playing ability but also at the players' maturity and capacity to withstand the hostility that is sure to be directed at the first black player in the Major Leagues.

Robinson gradually comes to Rickey's notice both for his skills on the field and his personal background. Although Paige and Gibson are far more prominent, Rickey decides to pass them over, concerned about Paige's age and reports about Gibson's mental stability. Rickey makes history by signing Robinson to the first contract between a black man and a Major League Baseball franchise. This alienates Robinson from his two friends at first, until Paige enlists Robinson's help in getting Gibson temporarily released from a mental hospital so that the three men can all play in the annual exhibition game between the All-Stars of the Major Leagues and the Negro League. The game is rained out, but Paige and Gibson seem reconciled to Robinson's being signed ahead of them.

The movie concludes by showing scenes from Robinson's successful career with the Dodgers, as well as Paige's later signing by the Cleveland Indians. Gibson died from a brain aneurysm at the age of 35 before he could ever play a game in the Major Leagues. All three men are later inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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