Wednesday, May 05, 2010

"Bottom of the Ninth": documentary about "another" professional baseball league

Chuck Braverman’s 2002 50-minute documentary “Bottom of the Ninth” (Facet) doesn’t focus on the Minor Leagues as we usually speak of them. Rather, it focuses largely on former Yankee (and Red Sox) pitcher Sparky Lyle managing the Somerset Patriots as part of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (link) which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball or the minor league farm system (link) . Players make something like $1750 a month.

Nevertheless, scouts watch performance in the League, and sometimes players are offered new tryouts at spring training next year in MLB.

The film focuses on a playoff between the Somerset (Bridgewater NJ) Patriots and Newark (NJ) Bears. The movie shows Riverfront stadium with downtown Newark (with Prudential and Public Service) in the background.

The DVD says it has two versions, one with the language softened for younger audiences, but only the softer version would play.

I recall that the old Washington Senators had minor league farm clubs like the Richmond Virginians and Charlotte Hornets, and actually lost to them when returning to Washington for Opening Day at the end of the Grapefruit season.

The Washington Nationals now eagerly await the opportunity to bring up Stephen Strasburg in early June.

The website for the film is this.

Imdb shows two other unrelated films by the same name.

We all know that the home team bats last, and has the chance for a walkoff win; on the road, a team has to defend a lead in the bottom of the ninth. Back in the 1950s, there was a board game called "Home Team Baseball Game" and as kids (particularly in Ohio summers near Cleveland, in days when the Indians were good with their "fearsome foursome" pitching staff) we made cardboard stadiums (shown above) and board game rules, with an aluminum foil wad as the "ball".

I did spend an evening at the Metrodome in November 1997 in the stands as an extra for WB/Morgan Creek’s “Major League 3”, directed by John Warren. They (the studio) gave us dinner. Ironically, the subtitle for the film is "Back to the Minors".  I would have to see it later at the Mall of America General Cinema.

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