Films and Videos

“Pride and Passion: The African American Baseball Experience” Online Site Support Notebook

Each library wishing to show films or videos to the public related to “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience” must themselves arrange for public performance rights.

Libraries that find available films related to the topics of the exhibit are asked to post information to the project discussion list.

Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns
, 1994. PBS DVD

Documentary on the history of baseball, divided into nine segments or innings. The Fifth inning, titled “Shadow Ball,” covers the sport’s attempts to survive the Great Depression, while a new generation of stars, including Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams, is on the rise. This episode also presents the parallel world of Negro League players, as they take to the road mixing showmanship with talent to draw crowds in big cities and small towns alike, and looks at the great players of the Negro Leagues: Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Cool Papa Bell, Judy Johnson, and Buck Leonard, among others.

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings
, 1976. DVD and VHS. (111 minutes)

Concerns the efforts of a barnstorming baseball team of African American players to work around the dominance of the Negro National League. Set in 1939, the script intelligently reflects some of the difficulties and requirements of black players at that time to find success in the game. The cast includes Billy Dee Williams, whose character is based on Satchel Paige, and James Earl Jones, whose part is suggestive of the tragic Josh Gibson,

The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson
, 1990. VHS (94 minutes)

This dramatization starring Andre Braugher depicts how Jackie Robinson was court-martialed for refusing to move to a seat in the back of an Army bus. While a four-sport star at UCLA (baseball, football, basketball and track), Robinson was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve during WWII. With the help of an influential fellow soldier, Joe Louis, Robinson became an officer. He then fought to get equal PX privileges for black soldiers. He was court-martialed on trumped-up charges of insubordination after refusing the order of a civilian bus driver to sit at the back of an Army bus. He won his case, resigned his commission, and joined the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro American League.

Don’t Look Back: The Story of Leroy “Satchel” Paige
, 1981. VHS (96 minutes)

Story of Satchel Paige, star pitcher in the Negro Leagues and later in the major leagues. Traces his life from his troubled youth, including his life in a detention school for Negroes, to his highs and lows in baseball and in his personal life. Stars Louis Gossett Jr.

The Jackie Robinson Story
, 1950. DVD (77 minutes)

A biographical film about Jackie Robinson, who stars as himself. Follows Jackie’s struggles against prejudice from childhood, through college, the Negro Leagues and finally as he fights to overcome the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. With Ruby Dee, Minor Watson, Louise Beavers.

The Kansas City Monarchs: Ain’t Seen Nothing Like It Since
, 1994. KCPT Public Television, Kansas City. VHS (90 minutes)

This documentary looks at the history of the Kansas City Monarchs, a team that sent more black players, including Jackie Robinson and Satchel Paige, to the major leagues than any other Negro leagues team.

Only the Ball Was White
, 1992. DVD and VHS (30 minutes)

Narrated by Paul Winfield. Contains film footage and interviews of baseball stars and Hall of Famers such as Buck Leonard, Roy Campanella, Jimmy Crutchfield, David Malarcher, Effa Manley and Satchel Paige.

Soul of the Game
, 1996. HBO. DVD and VHS (94 minutes)

An aging Satchel Paige wanted to be the first African American baseball player to integrate the major leagues after World War II. Things didn’t work out that way: the visibly dignified and younger Jackie Robinson got the nod, while the Negro Leagues Robinson left behind carried on with such brilliant talents as Josh Gibson. This HBO movie concerns the period just before Robinson was pressed into a difficult role breaking the color barrier, and the script by David Himmelstein and Gary Hoffman concerns his aspirations as well as those of the frustrated Paige and the deteriorating Gibson. Blair Underwood plays Robinson, Delroy Lindo is Paige, and Mykelti Williamson plays Gibson

There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace: Life in the Negro Leagues
, 1989. DVD and VHS. (58 minutes)

Narrated by James Earl Jones, this documentary is built around interviews with men who played in the Negro leagues, such as Satchel Paige, James “Cool Papa” Bell, Buck Leonard, Judy Johnson, and on films and still photographs of old games, including the annual East-West Classics that were held in Chicago’s Comiskey Park. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum has created curriculum materials related to this film for grades 9–12.
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The Untold Truth
, 2008?
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This documentary about the Negro leagues was scheduled to be released during the World Series in 2008. Please check the Internet for further information about distribution. Louis Gossett, Jr. is executive producer and narrator of the documentary, which focuses on the history of black baseball from 1865–1947, when Jackie Robinson became the first black baseball player in the major leagues. The film’s director, Gregg Champion, said the film will not only focus on the story of the Negro Baseball Leagues but also “how jazz and baseball came together, how women influenced baseball at that time and how the economics of baseball played into black Americans succeeding in all walks of life.” The filmmakers have an exclusive rights contract with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.