Diamonds and Movies

By Bill Francis

The recently completed Seventh Annual Baseball Film Festival, held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum last weekend, has attracted not only a loyal following among fans of the genre but also a growing number of filmmakers who’ve returned more than once to showcase their latest work.

Returning for the third time was documentary filmmaker Craig Lindvahl, who this past weekend was showing The Perfect Place, one of 14 films that made up this year’s festival, which uses the Cincinnati Reds to show how fans are connected to the game.

“This is a wonderful place to be,” Lindvahl said after the Saturday night showing of his film at the Hall’s Bullpen Theater. “It’s people who love baseball, who understand what we’re trying to say about baseball. It’s unbelievable to have a reason to be in the Hall of Fame. Not just as a visitor but to have a reason to be here. As a filmmaker or a storyteller you really hope that you’re striking a chord with people who understand what baseball is. There is no place in the world that is more the center of people who understand baseball that this building right here.

“I can’t think of anything that would be more exciting to me than to think I could come back. So hopefully the next film I work on might be accepted and we might find ourselves back here in a year.”

Brothers Nick and Colin Barnicle answer questions from the crowd during the Seventh Annual Baseball Film Festival (Bill Francis/NBHOF Library)

Brothers Nick and Colin Barnicle, sons of journalist Mike Barnicle, had a film accepted into the festival for a second consecutive year. Their entry, Polo Grounds, tells the story of the famed home of the New York Giants and the impact the area felt when the team left after the 1957 season.

“This is something that we’re trying to do every year. I don’t know if we’ll get there but we love coming up here, we love being a part of the Hall of Fame, and this film, I think, really fits,” said Nick Barnicle. “We were supposed to do other real work but we pushed it toward baseball, as usual, and tweaked it up to come up here, which is always on honor.

“It’s nice to see so many people committed to making not only documentaries but just films in general about baseball. We grew up around the game. We attempt to make our living telling stories about baseball. So it’s a thrill to meet other people who are doing the same thing.”

The festival’s closing film, Chasing 3000, was represented in Cooperstown by screenwriter/producer Bill Mikita, a first-time visitor to the Hall of Fame whose true story, about travelling with his brother to Pittsburgh in order witness Hall of Fame Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th career hit, the film is based on.

“Growing up loving baseball, and with baseball such an important part my life, this really is a sacred place,” he said after his film’s Sunday afternoon showing. “And that it’s on the 40th anniversary of Roberto Clemente’s 3,000th hit is just incredible.

“My two passions are baseball and movies, and to have the two combined this weekend has been great.”

Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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