The Columbus Connection: 42

by Maureen McCabe on April 8, 2013

The Columbus Connection to the movie ’42′

Branch Rickey Memorial Highway sign on Columbus Pike


A sign on a Columbus road in southern Delaware County says “Branch Rickey Memorial Highway.”   The sign is on  Columbus Pike (State Route 23)  just north of Lazelle Road in far north Columbus.  Branch Rickey played on the baseball team at Ohio Wesleyan University, while attending college.  He played major league baseball too including a short stint with the Cincinnati Reds.   Born somewhere  in Ohio, but not Columbus, Wesley Branch Rickey was a Major League Baseball executive in the story that is Jackie Robinson’s story.    Rickey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967 because of his contributions to major league baseball.  This was not Rickey’s only accomplishment as an executive.  People who know baseball probably know that…  I did not know who Branch Rickey was until a few months ago.

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I’ve passed the “Branch Rickey”  sign never knowing who Branch Rickey was.  Or even that Branch Rickey was a man. Perhaps the “Memorial Highway”  should have told me Branch Rickey was a person. I thought the sign was one of those signs that tells you about a nearby stream, you know “branch.”

Harrison Ford plays ‘Branch Rickey in the movie that opens in April 2013.

’42′ the movie

A trailer for ’42′ the movie, coming out this week nationwide:

The movie’s release is this week, April 12, 2013.   The movie ’42′ is the story of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in major league baseball.   An actor named Chadwick Boseman is cast as Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film.  Chris Meloni plays Leo Durocher, the Brooklyn Dodger’s manager.  Meloni was on Law & Order SVU for years.)  Jackie Robinson I’ve heard of.  Leo Durocher I’ve heard of.  Branch Rickey, I did not know.   After seeing a trailer for ’42′  late last year I Googled “Branch Rickey” and read about his time at Ohio Wesleyan College in Delaware, his stint as a player in major league baseball and Branch Rickey’s importance to the Jackie Robinson story.

Branch Rickey – a true story site is part of A+E Networks Corporate  entry for Branch Rickey says:

 ”In 1942, he was named general manager and president of the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he broke the long-standing race barrier in 1945 by signing Jackie Robinson…”

His full name was Wesley Branch Rickey, the site lists Rickey’s occupation as  “Civil Rights Activist” and “Business Leader.”

A picture of Branch Rickey now the only photo of Branch Rickey on the site and used on the Google page for Branch Rickey, looks like John Goodman to me.  Some early reviews of the movie said Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey was  bad casting.  I read more than one article that said the face putty was distracting.  Face putty?  Face putty must be the substance used to make Harrison Ford look like John Goodman,  or Branch Rickey.  Recently I have read articles that have said Harrison Ford should be nominated for best supporting actor for his performance in ’42.’  Movie hype?

Board: 42 (2013)   

I am not the only one who sees the John Goodman resemblance in historic photos of Branch Rickey.  There is a comment on IMDb (a movie site) that questions why John Goodman is not cast as Branch Rickey.

“How was John Goodman not cast as Branch Rickey?!” 

On a discussion board on IMDb a person identified as jsf49ers86 continued about actor John Goodman’s resemblance to Branch Rickey:

“He looks EXACTLY like Rickey. And it’s not like he’s poor actor. As a matter of fact, I would argue he’s better than Ford. “

In the  discussion on the IMDb board, started in February 2013 other’s argue although John Goodman’s face looks exactly like the photo of Branch Rickey often used online, Goodman is a much bigger man than Branch Rickey or Harrison Ford.

Columbus Connection Ohio H.B. 364

Ohio H.B. 364 introduced in 2007 tells the story of  Branch Rickey:

“Branch Rickey (1881-1965) was born in Flat, Ohio.  As an executive with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rickey brought Jackie Robinson to play baseball for the Dodgers in 1947, thereby breaking baseball’s then-existing color barrier.”

The highway from the Franklin County line to the City of Delaware is the ‘Branch Rickey Memorial Highway.’

The Columbus Connection…

Olentangy Indian Caverns

So when you drive north on State Route 23 (High Street in Worthington becomes Columbus Pike at some point, perhaps at the Franklin – Delaware county line?)  look for the green ‘Branch Rickey Memorial Highway’  sign.  An easy way to see the small green sign?   Look for a huge brown sign for Olentangy Indian Caverns.  The Olentangy Indian Caverns sign on the side of the road is easier to see.  Or just know when you are on State Route 23  in Delaware County Ohio you are on the Branch Rickey Memorial Highway.   That’s the Columbus connection to ’42′ the movie.



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