Kernels Honor Jackie Robinson, Lose To Wisconsin

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Reviews of the brand new movie "42? have been unanimously favorable. Sounds like that's the way it is for the guys in the Cedar Rapids Kernels clubhouse who have seen the story of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier.

It's so good and so inspiring, hitting coach Tommy Watkins has screened it twice already, and it's only been out four days.

"All the stuff those guys went through for us now is just amazing. That's why I've seen the movie twice, saw it the first day it came out," Watkins said before his team's 14-2 loss Monday night to Wisconsin at chilly Veterans Memorial Stadium. "I mean, I've read Hank Aaron's book a couple of times. Those guys couldn't even stay in the same hotel as everyone else, couldn't eat at the same places. That stuff is crazy, to think that it was ever like that.

"Those are guys that are heroes, especially to all the African-American players who are playing now."

Monday was Jackie Robinson Day around professional baseball. Every major league player, coach and manager wore Robinson's number 42 in celebration.

Robinson became the first man of color to play in the majors 66 years ago Monday for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He paved the way for guys like Watkins, Byron Buxton and Niko Goodrum, and they realize it.

"Just how dedicated and how hard he had to work to play baseball," said Buxton, the Minnesota Twins' top draft pick last year. "It makes you work harder to get there (to the major leagues). I just thank him for all he's done to help me get here today."

Goodrum has seen "42? and gives it a thumb's up.

"It's history," he said. "I mean, we knew what was going on then, (but) it was good seeing it, that they made an actual movie about it. After all we heard (about him) growing up and knowing the history behind what he did, I like how they portrayed it.

"He paved the way for us to play professional ball, and I'm thankful for him doing that. I respect that. Maybe someday I can wear 42 on Jackie Robinson Day."

It was a forgettable game for the Kernels (7-3), who were outhit, 16-5. Adam Brett Walker and Dalton Hicks had solo home runs to account for Cedar Rapids' runs.

Chris McFarland and Tyrone Taylor had three hits each for Wisconsin (4-4), with Taylor hitting a three-run home run. Michael Reed had four RBIs for the T-Rats.

Starting pitcher Damien Magnifico lit up the stadium's radar gun to the tune of 99 miles per hour on one pitch during his five-inning stint. It's widely recognized that the gun is generally two miles per hour slow because of its location in the press box.

David Hurlbut (1-1) took the loss for the Kernels. giving up seven hits and three runs in five innings. The teams play a double-header Tuesday night beginning at 5.
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