Hollywood Dad

C.C. man excited to see his father's stories on big screen

Published on April 12, 2013 in the Charles City Press

One of Charles City's newest residents, Brian Parrott, has a special interest in today's release of Warner Brothers new movie "42," the feature film about Major League Baseball's first African-American player, Jackie Robinson. For Parrott, it isn't a story about some distant historical figure, but one of his father and the people he worked with.

Brian's father, Harold Parrott, was a writer for the Brooklyn Eagle and the traveling secretary for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"That is really the road executive, handling the 25 guys' and coaches' rooms and meal money," Brian explained. "He also handled the media, which in 1947, there were 80 media following this story."

1947 was the year that Jackie Robinson was brought up to the majors by Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey – Harold ‘s boss.

It was also Harold's job to go through the players' mail. He was the first to see all the letters, supporting and threatening Robinson.

The Warner Brothers version of the Jackie Robinson story is also exciting for Brian, because his father's book, "The Lords of Baseball," which is enshrined inthe Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y., was used as a source for the writers.

"I am curious to ask the screen writer how much of a source 'The Lords of Baseball' was," Brian Parrott said. "I know it was a source, because certain stories in the book, nobody had ever written and they are using scenes that I have seen in the trailer."

Brian, who has been living in Charles City since November, pointed to a scene with then-Dodgers manager, Leo Duroucher, calling a midnight meeting after he hears that the players are circulating a petition not to play if the Dodgers bring Jackie Robinson up to the Major Leagues, as an example from his father's book.

Another family story that is featured in the new film is a scene in which Robinson receives a particularly brutal tongue lashing from southernborn Philadelphia Phillies manager, Ben Chapman. Brian's older brother, Lynn Parrott, was a bat boy for the Dodger's in 1947 and was reportedly in the batters circle with Robinson when it was taking place.

"I remember thinking, ‘Boy would this guy get in trouble from Sister Mary with language like that,'" Brian Parrott recalled his brother Lynn, age eight at the time, telling him years later. "The second thing I thought was, ‘This guy must not know Jackie at all. He is so nice, he wouldn't be yelling at him like that if he did.'"

Though Brian has seen the trailers, he is anxious to see the full movie and see which stories made it into the film.

"I am curious myself to see how it is all going to be portrayed," he said.

Harold Parrott is a major character in the movie. He will be played by T.R. Knight, most famous for his role of Dr. George O'Malley, in Grey's Anatomy. Knight paid Brian Parrott a visit to try to get to know his father better for the role.

"He flew out to Portland Ore., where I was at the time," Brian Parrott said. "We spent the day together and I gave him all kinds of stuff like pictures and things to give him a better idea of who dad was. He told me that when he got the part to play Harold Parrott, the screen writer and the director told him, ‘Here. Your character wrote this book, "The Lords of Baseball," read it.'"

Brian Parrott said most of the day was spent just trying to explain to Knight who his father was.

"I told him how smart Dad was," Brian recalled. "Dad used to learn 10 words a day out of the dictionary. He won a lot of spelling bees as a kid and they put him into high school at 11 and in college at 14. He graduated in English, second in his class, and got his masters at 21. So I was just giving him as much background as I could."

Brian Parrott also gave Knight an audio recording of Branch Rickey's speech at the founding of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, to give to Harrison Ford. Ford plays Branch in "42."

"I am curious to see how dad is going to be portrayed," Brian Parrot said.

Parrott said he was planning on seeing the 12:55 a.m. showing in Waterloo on Friday.

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