Jackie Robinson biopic made pitcher who faced him a villain: daughter

Sat May 11, 2013 12:34pm EDT
 
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By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - When a racist pitcher beans Jackie Robinson in the head in the new movie about the first black man to play major league baseball, Sherrill Duesterhaus wants everybody in the theater to know it's a lie.

Duesterhaus' father, Fritz Ostermueller, threw the pitch, but it did not hit Robinson in the head and there is no evidence he uttered, "You don't belong here and you never will," as shown in "42," the Warner Bros. Pictures film that opened in April.

"I respect Jackie Robinson, his story is so inspiring and it's good that it is out there, but not at the expense of someone's good name," said Duesterhaus, 66, of Joplin, Missouri.

Duesterhaus said she had been warned by a friend that the film was unflattering to her father, who died of cancer at age 50 when she was 11 years old.

But the scene in which he taunts Robinson and throws at his head was still a shock, she said.

"It just took my breath away," Duesterhaus said. "I thought, 'All these people are sitting here believing this and it didn't happen.' It broke my heart."

She said her father was a "kind and loving man" and neither she nor her mother can recall him talking badly about Robinson or any black player.

Duesterhaus produced an article from a Pittsburgh newspaper in 1947 in which her father said Robinson crowded the plate, making pitching to him difficult. Ostermueller played for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the time.   Continued...

 
Baseball player Fritz Ostermueller is pictured with his wife Faye and daughter in this 1948 family photo released to Reuters by his daughter Sherrill Duesterhaus (C). Ostermueller, threw the pitch, but it did not hit Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play major league baseball, in the head and there is no evidence he uttered, "You don't belong here and you never will," as shown in "42," the Warner Bros. Pictures film that opened in April. REUTERS/Sherrill Duesterhaus/Handout via Reuters