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Stars big and small out in force for screening of '42'

LOS ANGELES -- There were stars on the big screen and in the audience on Saturday night when the Dodgers presented a private screening of the movie "42" to more than 200 youth from Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) programs at Rave Cinemas 15 in Baldwin Hills.

Jackie Robinson's niece, Kathy Robinson Young, addressed the crowd before the movie, which chronicles Robinson's first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

"I'd like you all to think about how you treat people in the classroom, in school, on the field and at home," said Young, before honoring requests for pictures and handshakes.

In 1997, under the direction of Commissioner Bud Selig, Robinson's No. 42 was retired across all of Major League Baseball in an unprecedented tribute.

Former Dodgers utility man Derrel Thomas, who grew up in Los Angeles, spoke to the kids about Jackie Robinson's social and academic accomplishments.

"Jackie was a great student and a great person, and you can learn a lot from him," said Thomas, who played with the Dodgers for five seasons from 1979-83. "Jackie was an inspiration for me."

The RBI program is designed to give youth from underserved communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic success and teach the value of teamwork.

RBI director David James said the movie screening was a great way to reintroduce youth to Jackie's legacy, and his importance not only to the integration of the Major Leagues, but also to the nation.

"This is a chance to open up minds and eyes to kids who may not know about this not-so-faraway history, and what Jackie went through and how he changed America," James said. "Jackie is an American hero. I think the movie really puts in perspective what he went through and how he changed the country."

In addition to Saturday's screening, the Dodgers will host a baseball and softball clinic at Dodger Stadium on Sunday for 250 kids from Los Angeles-area RBI programs. Coaches at the clinic include Dodgers alumni Maury Wills, Tommy Davis, Al Downing, Kenny Landreaux, Lou Johnson, Dennis Powell and Thomas. There will also be appearances by Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and Don Newcombe, the 1956 National League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner.

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for