Engel Foundation continues renovation efforts after '42' filming - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Engel Foundation continues renovation efforts after '42' filming

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Monday marks the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking major league baseball's color barrier to become its first black player. The date comes as the movie '42' is playing in theaters nationwide. The film features several scenes from historic Engel Stadium.

The Engel Foundation hopes the film gives an added boost to the efforts to bring the stadium back to life. Channel 3 also caught up with a Chattanooga man who had a role in the film, who agrees, more should be done to preserve the piece of history.

As '42,' the biographical movie of Jackie Robinson, hits theaters, Chattanoogans are taking a renewed interest in historical Engel Stadium, where portions of the film were shot.

"It took a lot of work. A lot of volunteers," says Joe Hutcherson.

Hutcherson is on the board for Engel Foundation. He says a lot went into transforming the stadium for the silver screen but there is still more work to be done to make Engel shine. The foundation held an open house Saturday with proceeds going to renovation efforts.

"It's an opportunity for everybody to see the potential for this stadium," he says.

"Engel Stadium is just a crown jewel that we have here. It's a shame that it fell into disrepair. Everyone should be very grateful to the Engel Stadium Foundation and what they're trying to do here," says Gary Miller.

Miller knows Engel all too well. He spent 14 days on the set of '42.'

He remembers getting the news he was cast as an umpire.

"The email came through and said you got the part. It was just magic," he says with a smile.

Besides being in the movie, he and his family got the chance to fly out to Los Angeles for the premiere, rubbing elbows with the stars.

"I'm a sports guy and I was really excited. I'm 10 feet away from Hank Aaron? Ken Griffey Jr. is there."

Besides the all the lights, camera and action, Miller says a lot can be learned from the movie.

"This is a really important movie. It truly is. It is really a true snapshot of a period of time that too many people have not been exposed to," he says.

He hopes '42' will leave Chattanoogans proud to be a part of the story.

"I am truly, deeply honored to be associated with a movie like '42,'" says Miller.

The foundation has already spent more than $100,00 to bring the stadium up to code and that work was not for the movie, just up-keep. They have a goal to raise $175,000 to repair the outfield.

As for Miller, he has gotten a few more gigs as a result of '42.' He will be appearing on the big screen again in the new 'Hunger Games' movie this Fall, as well as 'Anchorman 2.'

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