According to screencaps I’ve been posting on every social media web site, Firefly actor Alan Tudyk, who has probably been in things other than Firefly, will be portraying racist former Phillies manager Ben Chapman in the upcoming film 42.
42 will tell the epic story of Jackie Robinson, and his heroic journey as he bashed the color barrier in Major League Baseball. There were countless prejudices and insurmountable racism in those days, but nobody embodied this horrible sentiment more than Ben Chapman.
Ben was a scum bag who was born in Tennessee and died in Alabama. In between, he played pro ball, becoming a teammate to Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, and Lou Gehrig. As a Yankee in his rookie season, he led the AL in errors. Sadly, most of his career was filled with impressive accolades (such as being the first hitter in an All-Star Game, ever, leading the league in triples. etc.) that you have to acknowledge, but most of it is undone by the fact that he was a horrible bigot with a tiny, tiny brain.
After his playing years, Chapman took over a last place Phillies team in 1945. Two years later, the Phillies were not much better, but Jackie Robinson was called up to the Majors. Though many teams were prejudiced at the time, Chapman and his Phillies were so adamantly terrified of a black person playing baseball that their vicious rhetoric made it into the New York Times. One little gem from this pathetic monster’s brain was to instruct his pitchers, if they’d put a 3-0 count on Robinson, to simply bean him on purpose.
So ridiculous was Chapman’s vitriol that it actually failed and helped turn Robinson into the hero. Eventually, Chapman was seen as such the villain that the league demanded he appear in this photo op.
Any fan of Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” will recognize Tudyk as the charming, quirky, dinosaur-loving comic relief/star pilot who flew Captain Mal Reynolds’ crew all over the known ‘Verse. In this case of course he is playing an awful, hateful man that will undoubtedly unlock a wave of anti-Phillies fervor.
The overwhelming joy there is in seeing a great actor from a cool show appear in a historical baseball movie as a Phillies rep is unraveled entirely when revealed that he will be portraying one of the shittier fiends in the sport’s history. Come to think of it, the Phillies’ long and storied history is filled mostly with humiliating incompetence, jazzed up by an era of relentless hate. So why don’t we just take this moment to remind ourselves that the Phillies were one of the first teams to produce an “It Gets Better” video.