Knuckleball Delivers First Pitch at Seventh Annual Baseball Film Festival, Friday in Cooperstown

Feature-Length Film about The Game’s Most Unusual Pitchers to be Screened for Free at 7 p.m. Showing in Museum’s Grandstand Theater

September 25, 2012

COOPERSTOWN, NY – Two classic American pastimes come together Friday, as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum presents the Seventh Annual Baseball Film Festival with opening ceremonies in Cooperstown.

The first-pitch event will feature a special screening of the 90-minute film Knuckleball at 7 p.m. Friday in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater. Currently in limited theater release in New York, Boston and Austin, the film is now available for rent or purchase on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube or through Movies on Demand from cable providers.

All told, 14 baseball-themed films will be shown throughout the weekend as part of the Museum’s annual salute to baseball and film.

Knuckleball recounts the 2011 journey of the last professional knuckleball pitchers: Tim Wakefield, a 17-year Red Sox veteran, and Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey. Together with just four other living knuckleballers, they shine a light on their remarkable brotherhood and the shared pursuit of honor and craftsmanship.

Tickets for Knuckleball are free of charge but are limited and must be reserved in advance. To reserve seats for Knuckleball, please call 607-547-0397 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.  Extremely limited quantities of tickets for the other 13 films at the Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival remain and can also be reserved by calling the Museum.

The schedule of films on Saturday and Sunday includes:

Session 1

Saturday, Sept. 29, 10 a.m., Bullpen Theater

Harlem Baseball (9 min.)

Youman Wilder is a beloved figure in Harlem. For years he has been fostering young baseball talent through his Harlem Baseball Academy and giving kids a shot at reaching a dream that he fell short of himself as a player. Youman is a Brooklyn product that played high school baseball with former MLB All-Star Shawon Dunston and Pro ball in Mexico. When he is not moonlighting as a singer, he is the go-to guy in NYC for any player looking to make it to the college or pro level.

The Dash (20 min.)

Minor League Baseball is where young players learn the nuances of the game. This film documents an entire season of Minor League baseball with the Winston-Salem Dash, as the team plays for a championship and the players fight for the opportunity to move up and realize their dreams of making the major leagues. This film was completed by John Harvey and Chelsea O’Shea, students at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts-School of Filmmaking. 

The First Padres (93 minutes)

Featuring interviews with players, family members, and historians, hundreds of period photos and never before seen archival footage from Lane Field and Westgate Park, "The First Padres" is the most comprehensive story ever told about baseball in San Diego. From the team's founding in 1936 and the construction of Lane Field, to the signing of Ted Williams and the Padres' first pennant in 1954, to the move to Westgate Park in Mission Valley, "The First Padres" is a film about San Diego coming of age with the National Pastime. 

Session 2

Saturday, Sept. 29, 2 p.m., Bullpen Theater

Baseball Comes to Japan (5 min.)

In 1934, a famed team of US baseball All-Stars, toured Japan and catalyzed the formation of Japanese professional baseball. The team included Babe Ruth, Lefty Gomez, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and others. These clips include the personal 16mm films of Lefty Gomez, which were discovered by his daughter, Vernona Gomez, while writing the book LEFTY: An American Odyssey.

Play Catch (25 min.)

Two fathers, Mike Sigler and Mike Ramirez, have coached their daughters' softball teams since the girls were old enough to play. Now at the age of sixteen, Claire Sigler and Hannah Ramirez forge their independence, and softball assumes a different role in their lives. The burden falls on these men to adjust as their girls outgrow the game once bonded them together. Through the prism of sports, “Play Catch” presents a contemporary portrait of Southern California families, blends bittersweet moments of transition with fatherly humor, and highlights a coming-of-age conflict resulting from gender and generational differences.

A No-Hit No-Run Summer (104 min.)

Martin is 12 years old and dreams of making the neighborhood baseball team. When he gets cut, his father steps in and together they spend a summer full of hope and disappointment, line drives and foul balls.

Session 3

Saturday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m., Bullpen Theater

The Polo Grounds (48 min.)

Christy Mathewson Day captures the spirit of Factoryville, Pa., as they celebrate their most famous resident, Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson. Members of the community tell their own history of triumphs and adversities through the framework of the yearly celebration of their favorite son. Trying to always remember the past in their present, Factoryville is very much a nostalgic town yearning to make a mark on surrounding communities.

The Perfect Place (22 min.)

A 22-minute collection of short stories that examine our connection to baseball. Whether it’s the winter caravan, spring training, or attending a game at the ballpark, there are sights, sounds, and smells that forever link us to the experience. With voiceovers from such notables as Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker, and others, The Perfect Place celebrates the connection in beautiful, humorous, and compelling ways.

Fenway Park: 100 Years, the Heart of Red Sox Nation (103 min.)

From its grand opening on April 20, 1912 Fenway has enthralled fans with its quirky shape, playing field oddities including the Pesky Pole, the Triangle, and Green Monster. John Updike called it, a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark, Hitters call it a haven, and the legions of passionate fans who inhabit Red Sox Nation call it home. 

Session 4

Sunday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m., Bullpen Theater

Ten Men on the Field (28 min.)

What if Major League Baseball owners conspired to change the game on the field in a significant manner? What if no one stood up to stop them? Could one man make a difference? 

The Day the Aces Got Trumped (20 min.)

The year is 1890, a barnstorming baseball team visits the town of Singletree, Montana to play a team of locals. Afterwards the game is talked about in newspapers as far east as Baltimore...A Tale of Baseball Americana. 

Legendary: When Baseball came to the Bluegrass (54 min.)

This is a documentary film about the history and success of the Lexington Legends, a minor league baseball team located in the sports-crazy city of Lexington, Kentucky. 

Closing Film

Sunday, Sept. 30, 2 p.m., Bullpen Theater 

Chasing 3000 (98 min.)

As the 1972 baseball season draws to a close and star player Roberto Clemente prepares to knock hit number 3,000 out of the park, two brothers -- one of whom is afflicted with muscular dystrophy -- make the drive from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh in hopes of witnessing sports history in the making. 

For movies shown during Session 3 on Sept. 29, visitors must use the entrance to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Library building located in Cooper Park. 

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is open seven days a week year round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The Museum observes summer hours of 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. from Memorial Day Weekend until the day before Labor Day. From Labor Day until Memorial Day Weekend, the Museum observes daily regular hours of 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Ticket prices are $19.50 for adults (13 and over), $12 for seniors (65 and over) and for those holding current memberships in the VFW, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and AMVets organizations, and $7 for juniors (ages 7-12). Members are always admitted free of charge and there is no charge for children 6 years of age or younger.  For more information, visit our Web site at baseballhall.org or call 888-HALL-OF-FAME (888-425-5633) or 607-547-7200.