Cooperstown hosts Fifth Annual film fest

Ron KaplanContributor ISeptember 13, 2010

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will host the Baseball Film Festival in Cooperstown, Oct. 1-3.

As part of the three-day event, Billy Crystal, who directed and executive produced the classic film 61*, will be on hand as the Hall of Fame celebrates his 2001 production that told the story of the 1961 New York Yankees and chronicled the efforts of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle to break Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. The evening salute to 61* will feature an hors d’oeuvres reception with Crystal, Bob Costas and Ross Greenburg, President of HBO Sports and executive producer on the film, from 6-7 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Gallery. A discussion of the film will follow in the Grandstand Theater with Crystal, Costas and Greenburg participating from 7-8:30 p.m. The Museum will screen the film beginning at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 1. For information or tickets, call 607-547-0397.

Eleven films, with themes ranging from Hall of Famer Josh Gibson to the 2004 American League Championship Series, will be screened on Saturday and Sunday, as filmmakers and fans celebrate the timeless connection between baseball and the big screen. All films will be shown in the Hall of Fame’s Bullpen Theater. A complete list of the films to be screened during the weekend includes:

Session 1

Saturday, Oct. 2, 10 a.m.

* Josh Gibson: The Legend Behind the Plate (50 min.)

His Hall of Fame numbers are staggering: Nearly 800 career homeruns. Blasting baseballs out of ballparks like they were rockets. A skilled defensive catcher, he was a master at handling pitchers, and his powerful arm cut down opponents on the basepaths. Josh Gibson’s performance on the baseball diamond made Pittsburgh the epicenter of the Negro Leagues. This first documentary solely on Josh Gibson not only tells of Gibson’s legendary baseball accomplishments, but looks into the culture of the time and the influence of the Negro Leagues on Major League Baseball.

* 3 Balls, 2 Strikes (5 min.)

A short film which illustrates how the game of baseball appears in our everyday life.

* Dear Baseball: I Love You (14 mins.)

With an opening narration by Ford C. Frick Award winner Marty Brennaman, this film features five short segments of a man looking back at the baseball of his youth. The film sequences recreate the 1950s in meticulous detail. You’ll see vintage gloves and uniforms, and “brand new” 1950s baseball spikes. You’ll hear and feel the emotion as you watch a journey back to the baseball of our youth. If you grew up in the 1950s, you’ll understand. And if you played baseball as a kid, this is your love story.

Session 2

Saturday, Oct. 2, 1 p.m.

* James Warwick (13 min.)

A nostalgic film that follows the story of everyman James Warwick. From the perspective of a newspaper columnist writing a story, James’s life is told beginning with his return home from World War II, his relegation to life as a garbage man, and his evening pick-up baseball games.

* BEISBOL: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (118 min.)

Beisbol is the definitive look at Latin baseball – its origins, its lore, and its impact upon the game today. Culled from over 150 hours of trailblazing interviews with stars past and present, executives, scouts, broadcasters, and historians – plus public figures with a special interest in the game – the documentary uses  Latin ball as a means to deal with issues such as race, politics, and economics, plus of course baseball itself.

Session 3

Saturday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m.

* Four Days in October (51 min.)

When the night of October 6, 2004 came to a merciful end, the Curse of the Bambino was alive and well. The vaunted Yankee lineup, led by A-Rod, Jeter, and Sheffield, had just extended their ALCS lead to three games to none, pounding out 19 runs against their hated rivals. The next night, in Game 4, the Yankees took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, then turned the game over to Mariano Rivera, the best relief pitcher in postseason history, to secure yet another trip to the World Series. But after a walk and a hard-fought stolen base, the cold October winds of change began to blow. Over four consecutive days and nights, this unlikely group of Red Sox miraculously won four straight games to overcome the inevitability of their destiny.

* Ballhawks (74 min.)

The story of the group of men who have been chasing baseballs and dreams just outside the ivy-covered walls of Wrigley Field for the last ninety years. 2004 is different, however, as the Cubs have put together a team that could contend for their first World Series title since 1908. These increased expectations have heated up the competition for home run balls hit onto the street. Also looming is the shadow of Wrigley Field expansion, which when completed, will be yet another obstacle testing the Ballhawks’ resolve. Will the Ballhawks handle the pressure or will they wilt under the August heat, crush of the crowds, and impending expansion?

Ballhawks Teaser from Mike Diedrich on Vimeo.

Session 4

Sunday, Oct. 3, 10 a.m.

*Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story (91 min.)

This film brings to life the contributions of Jewish major leaguers and explores the special meaning that baseball has in the lives of American Jews. More than a film about sports, it is a story of immigration, assimilation, bigotry, heroism, the passing on of traditions, and the shattering of stereotypes.

* Conrads: A Team Rich in History (10 min.)

We all know that the love for baseball goes back over 100 years. Games played in gothic stadiums with modern technology, fields with nothing more than grass and dirt. Fans come out to cheer their teams no matter where the game is played. One York, Pa., sandlot team with a historic and successful past is Conrads, which plays in the Susquehanna League.

Session 5

Sunday, Oct 3, 1:30 p.m.

* Buck O’Neil and Black Baseball in Chicago (30 min)

This film offers a unique look at the early days of local minority baseball, much of it through the eyes of Buck O’Neil, the one-time Negro League legend. Produced by the Chicago Baseball Museum, the film recognizes the impact and significance of O’Neil and the Negro Leagues over the years and brings these contributions to light.

* The Last Season: The Eugene Emeralds and Civic Park (30 min)

This film takes a look at the final season of Civic Stadium, home to the Eugene Emeralds from 1969 until they moved in 2010. The film includes game footage and interviews with manager Greg Riddoch as well as players, fans, front-office executives and other employees throughout last season. The movie concludes with the final game at the ballpark.

* * *

Tickets for the screening of Film Festival entries are free of charge but limited and must be reserved. Admission to the Museum is required for films shown during regular Museum hours. Members can reserve their tickets starting Sept. 20, and any remaining seats will made available to the general public beginning Sept. 27 by calling the Membership department at 607-547-0397 or visiting the Membership desk in the Museum. For movies shown after 5 p.m., visitors must use the entrance to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Library building located in Cooper Park.

1 comment(s) for this post:

  1. Joe:
    2010-Sep-14 The Field of Dreams Ghost Players movie was screened at the festival last year. We enjoyed every minute. Short video of our time there:

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