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PHOENIX -- Hundreds of Valley kids will be treated to a free screening of "42" next month, courtesy of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Major League Baseball.

"42" focuses on Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in baseball in 1946 when he became the first black player in the league.

"He probably meant more to our sport than any player in history," said Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall. "It's important that we teach today's youth what Robinson meant to the sport but to the nation as well."

Hall said the team will treat about 500 Valley eighth to 12th graders to a private screening of the movie on Friday, May 17.

"The students will be selected through the Boys & Girls Clubs which we have reached out to. We've reached out to four clubs and they're interested in participating and, if we get more kids on board, we will expand the program."

Hall is on the Major League Baseball task force to help create more interest and opportunities for young African-Americans to become involved in the sport.

"We've seen the number of African-Americans playing baseball on the decline. Right now it's about 8.5 percent of the players and that's down from the height of 19 percent in 1986."

Social media will play a big role when the Diamondbacks take the kids to see "42."

"Once they've seen the movie we would like them to reach out via Facebook and Twitter about what Jackie Robinson means to them," said Hall.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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