documentary film about the uncertain daily life of Triple-A baseball:
and their families waiting for a call-up to the major leagues
Anyone who has ever chased a dream knows that it does not come easily,
and getting into baseball’s major leagues is perhaps one of the
most difficult dreams of all to attain. Playing in the minor leagues
at the Triple-A level means you’re almost there – but things have
to fall your way if you’re to go up. And if they don’t, you’ll likely
be headed down.
A Player To Be Named Later is a defining documentary about
Triple-A minor league baseball. The film captures a season in Triple-A
– 145 games in 150 days. Going up and down through the ranks is
a way of life for the players as they chase their dreams. But it’s
also a way of life for the players’ families, who chase them as
they move about from one game to another and one team to another,
all around the country. Families have other challenges, too, like
making ends meet on a paltry minor league salary.
Directed by Bart Stephens, A Player To Be Named Later follows the Triple-A Indianapolis
Indians through a season. Viewers meet Marco Scutaro, a young Venezuelan
player (now, Scutaro is with the San Francisco Giants); Kyle Peterson, a pitcher
and former first-round draft pick who has missed the previous season
following shoulder surgery; Micah Franklin, a once highly-sought
prospect who has spent the last two years playing in Japan; and
Brad Tyler, a 32-year-old veteran who has never made it to the majors.
Along the way, colorful side characters emerge, such as Miss Jackie,
the Indians’ #1 fan for the past 40 years, and pitcher Allen ‘Meat’
Levrault. Also featured are
the coaches, team owner, radio announcers, manager, and others who
work to bring baseball to the fans.
In A Player To Be Named Later, baseball becomes
the symbolic stage for the struggle between chasing the American
Dream and the realities of everyday life.
Preston Jones, entertainment editor of the Oklahoma Gazette, offers
this review of the documentary:
Heartbreak and hope are as inextricably linked in professional sports
- particularly baseball - as hot dogs and scorecards. So much drama
in major league baseball is derived from spectacular plays, crushing
losses, defying the odds and magical moments that live forever in
the hearts and minds of devoted fans. But what fans often forget
is the relentless grind of the farm system, where hundreds of college
ballplayers must first prove their mettle in the minor leagues before
receiving that fateful phone call to the "big show."
Over the course of one long, grueling and emotionally draining season,
each of the four experience ups and downs, run-ins with colorful
characters and discover just how much it takes to sacrifice everything
and achieve your dreams. Interviews and fly-on-the-wall footage
create sharply defined portraits of these men, all at various stages
in their lives, in short order - Stephens expertly sets up situations
and largely doesn't impose himself upon the narrative.
A brisk, evocative documentary that reveals a side of semi-pro athletics
that most people associate with the 1988 film Bull Durham, A
Player To Be Named Later is a terrific sports-themed film that
will thrill fans and non-fans alike.
A Player To Be Named Later just might restore your faith
in the game that's been damaged by steroid scandals and ever-increasing
paychecks. Those at the minor league level must play for the love
of the game, as there is no guarantee of anything more ever coming
their way. Recommended for baseball fans and non-fans alike.
Congrats, Marco, on being named 2012 NLCS Most Valuable Player!