'Fastball' Headlines Tenth Annual Baseball Film Festival

12 Films Featured in Museum’s Annual Tribute to Baseball on the Big Screen

When the National Pastime is reduced to its basic matchup – batter vs. pitcher – it is often the most basic pitch that determines the outcome.

Fastball, the acclaimed new documentary film, celebrates the game’s signature delivery and headlines the 10th Annual Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival Sept. 25-27 in Cooperstown.

Produced by National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Board member Thomas Tull (the producer of “42”), along with Philip Aromando and Mike Tollin and directed by Jonathan Hock, Fastball explores the history and science behind baseball’s foundational pitch and features Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, Goose Gossage and Nolan Ryan as well as legends Derek Jeter and Justin Verlander. Narrated by Kevin Costner, the feature-length film explores the question of who threw the fastest pitch of all time.

The Film Festival gets under way at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 with a screening of Fastball in the Museum’s Bullpen Theater.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum recognizes the twin traditions of baseball and film when, for the 10th consecutive year, it hosts the Baseball Film Festival in Cooperstown, Sept. 25-27. Twelve films, with themes ranging from Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio and Caribbean baseball trailblazer Andre Rodgers to a look at the earthquake that rocked the 1989 World Series, will be screened on Friday, 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.

Tickets for all films are free but must be reserved in advance by calling 607-547-0397 beginning at 9 a.m. on Sept. 14.

Films are shown during seven blocks throughout the weekend. A complete list of the films to be screened during the weekend includes:

Special Opening Film

Friday, Sept. 25, 7 p.m., Bullpen Theater

Fastball (87 min.)

Produced by Thomas Tull of Legendary Pictures and directed in association with Major League Baseball by the acclaimed Jonathan Hock, Fastball celebrates baseball’s signature pitch and aims to definitively answer the age-old debate: who threw the fastest fastball of all-time? Was it Walter Johnson? Or Bob Feller? Steve Dalkowski? Or someone else? Featuring interviews with a number of Hall of Famers, this 2015 release produces an intriguing answer.

Session One

Saturday, Sept. 26, 9:30 a.m., Bullpen Theater

Luis Aparicio: 30 years of Immortality (24 min.)

It has been just over 30 years since the news arrived that Luis Aparicio had become a Hall of Famer. Thirty Years of Immortality examines the impact of Aparicio, who starred for the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Boston Red Sox during a career that spanned from the 1950s to the 1970s. The film features footage from the day that Venezuela heard the news that one of its native sons had achieved immortality in Cooperstown.

Gentle Giant: The Andre Rodgers Story (60 min.)

He grew up playing cricket in the Bahamas. He had never even seen a game of baseball before trying out for the San Francisco Giants in 1954, but they signed him immediately. Gentle Giant: The Andre Rodgers Story recalls how Rodgers became a minor league superstar before making his way to the major leagues. Rodgers lived in two worlds, the America of the 1950s and 1960s with its violent racial struggles, and the laidback British Colony known as the Bahamas. Leading by example, Rodgers taught many of his American counterparts how to deal with racism while navigating the ballfields of America.

Session Two

Saturday, Sept. 26, 11:45 a.m., Bullpen Theater

The Bridgeton Invitational (29 min.)

The legacy of this tournament is indispensable to the history of baseball. Narrated by legendary Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler, The Bridgeton Invitational: America’s Most Innovative Baseball Tournament chronicles the history of this event from its inception to today. From the designated hitter rule, which has roots at Alden Field, to the tournament’s timing rules that are now being implemented in the minor leagues, the tournament has had a huge impact on baseball. First-hand accounts from its originators and the people who run it today bring this story to life.

The Fall League (55 min.)

The Fall League is a documentary film that follows a senior slow-pitch softball league in Dayton, Ohio, and investigates ways that players’ lives are affected and enhanced by their unwavering love of the game. The films exhibits a group of older area citizens who don't know the meaning of the word “quit.” They are pushing the limits of time and their aging bodies to do what they love.

Session Three

Saturday, Sept. 26, 2:15 p.m., Bullpen Theater

The Day the World Series Stopped (45 min.)

Where were you at 5:04 p.m. on October 17, 1989? Filmmaker and lifelong San Francisco Giants fan Jon Leonoudakis was at Candlestick Park with his brother, Tim, armed with a camcorder and a Canon SLR to capture all the pageantry of his first World Series game. He left with a gripping account of every heart-stopping moment that day, as well as the Loma Prieta earthquake's aftermath and the resumption of Game 3 ten days later. Mixing archival news clips with his personal footage and photographs, Leonoudakis presents a unique and personal perspective, exploring themes of fandom, family, civic pride, baseball and the Bay Areas triumph over tragedy.

Session Four

Saturday, Sept. 26, 3:30 p.m., Bullpen Theater

Morganna: The Kissing Bandit (21 min.)

Her “targets” included everyone from Pete Rose to Frank Howard to George Brett. An E-60 production from ESPN, The Kissing Bandit reveals how Morganna Roberts, a nearly destitute exotic dancer, became a national celebrity by invading ballfields in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Conducting her first interview in more than 20 years, Roberts discusses her life today and what prompted her to become a symbol of rebellion.

Matt Harvey: The Dark Knight Rises (47 min.)

Matt Harvey: The Dark Knight Rises examines the meteoric rise to stardom, the devastating elbow injury, and the grueling rehabilitation of one of the game’s most talked about young stars. Bolstered by nearly unprecedented access, this E-60 production from ESPN follows the New York Mets’ ace on his celebrated comeback path.

Session Five

Saturday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m., Bullpen Theater

The Battered Boys of Baseball (73 min.)

In 1973, Hollywood veteran Bing Russell created an independent baseball team, the Portland Mavericks. Operating without a major league affiliation while playing in a city considered a wasteland for professional baseball, Russell held open tryouts and filled his team with renegades who had been rejected by Organized Baseball. The Battered Boys of Baseball tells the true story of the team that skeptics said would fail, but did not. The Mavericks generated unprecedented success, shattering attendance records, showcasing actor Kurt Russell (Bing’s son) as a ballplayer, and relaunching the controversial career of pitcher-turned-author Jim Bouton.

Session Six

Sunday, Sept. 27, 10 a.m., Bullpen Theater

Spyball (18 min.)

Directed by Christina Burchard and Daniel Newman, Spyball tells the extraordinary story of Moe Berg, a linguist, lawyer and .243 lifetime hitter whom Casey Stengel called “the strangest man to ever play the game of baseball.” Educated at Princeton and Columbia, Berg was friends with Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein and the Marx Brothers, but it was his loyalty to his country that truly distinguished him. An ESPN 30 for 30 production.

Ballfield to Battlefield and Back – From FDR to JFK (63 min.)

Narrated by former major league stars George Case and Mickey Vernon, Ballfield to Battlefield and Back – From FDR to JFK features 60 minutes of color footage of World War II and Korean War-era major leaguers spanning the years 1939 through 1962. More than 80 players who served in the military, including 40 Hall of Famers, are identified in this oral history, along with their branches of service. Among the Hall of Fame veterans are Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Hank Greenberg, Stan Musial, Jackie Robinson, Warren Spahn and Ted Williams. The DVD also features four presidents (FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and JFK) throwing out ceremonial first pitches in Washington, DC.

Session Seven

Sunday, Sept. 27, 12:15 p.m., Bullpen Theater

Sidewinder (60 min.)

Hall of Famer Eddie Plank has become somewhat forgotten by time, but the new documentary, Sidewinder, revives his story for current generations. Through archival photographs and footage, the film explores in full detail the career and life of the legendary left-hander who was known as “Gettysburg Eddie.”

Note: Special Entrance

For Fastball on Sept. 25 and movies shown during Session 5 on Sept. 26, visitors must use the entrance to the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Library building located in Cooper Park.

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