While modern pro baseball draws its players from all over the globe, America’s pastime wasn’t always so diverse. Through archival footage and interviews, the new documentary “The League” gives an in-depth look at how Black baseball players and the Negro Leagues forever changed the game.
The film was the brainchild of producer Byron Motley, whose late father, Bob Motley, was the last living Negro Leagues umpire.
“My first interview was with my father and Buck O’Neil and a couple other players at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, in my hometown in Kansas City,” Motley said. “I flew there and took a little crew with me and had raised a lot of money to start the process and just started doing these interviews and falling in love — I mean, really in love — with each of these men and women who are a part of this story, this American history. It may be history that most people don’t know about. It came at a time when Blacks really needed to create something of their own, and they did that with baseball. Black players were the first to go to … Latin American countries and introduced the game of baseball to Latin Americans, through Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, you name it. And Blacks were the first to go to Japan to play baseball. So with the influx of great Japanese players in the majors now, they’re byproducts of the leagues as well, because their ancestors learned the game from these great Black players.”
“The League” is showing at AMC River East, AMC Village Crossing and AMC Ford City Theaters on July 9, 10 and 12.