“THE OTHER BOYS OF SUMMER”

Jackie Robinson may have been the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, but what about those he left behind in the Negro league?

To host a screening of “The Other Boys of Summer,” click here.

Aired on June 19, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

THEY WERE PIONEERS IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN PLAYING AMERICA'S FAVORITE PASTIME.

BASEBALL LEGEND JACKIE ROBINSON BROKE BASEBALL'S COLOR BARRIER IN 1947 WHEN HE WENT TO PLAY FOR THE BROOKLYN DODGERS.

NOW A NEW DOCUMENTARY 'THE OTHER BOYS OF SUMMER' INTRODUCES US TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE NEGRO LEAGUE.

EVEN AS THEY FACED RACISM AND SEGREGATION, THEY STILL FOUND THE PASSION TO PLAY.

HERE'S A PREVIEW.

EVERY YEAR, BASEBALL SEASON COMES ALONG, I WAS READY TO GO.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THAT GAME OF BASEBALL THAT JUST GETS INTO YOUR BLOODY GUESS.

.

I SAY SEGREGATION NOW, SEGREGATION TOMORROW, AND SEGREGATION FOREVER.

I RECEIVED A BASEBALL SCHOLARSHIP TO NORTH CAROLINA A & T STATE UNIVERSITY IN GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA.

THAT WAS A RUDE AWAKENING FOR ME BECAUSE HAD I NEVER BEEN SOUTH BEFORE.

JOINING ME NOW IS THE FILM'S DIRECTOR LAUREN MEYER.

LAUREN, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU.

I HEAR THESE STORIES OF WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO PLAY IN A SEGREGATED LEAGUE OF AMERICA'S FAVORITE PASTIME WAS SO FASCINATING.

WHAT DREW YOU TO THE FILM?

I WAS INTERESTED IN PURSUING THE STORY BECAUSE TO ME RACISM AND SEGREGATION NEVER MADE SENSE.

CLEARLY WE KNOW IT EXISTS.

YOU LEARN ABOUT IT GROWING UP IN SCHOOL BUT THE CONCEPT OF WHAT MADE SOMEBODY LEAVE A CERTAIN BASED ON COLOR OF THEIR SKIN SHOULDN'T BE ALLOWED TO SIT SOMEWHERE OR EAT SOMEWHERE OR TRAVEL TO A CERTAIN LOCATION, THAT TO ME NEVER MADE SENSE AS A WHITE WOMAN, I CAN'T WALK IN THEIR SHOES.

SO WHAT I WANTED TO DO WAS EXPLORE WHAT THAT WOULD BE LIKE TO PURSUE YOUR DREAM IN I SEGREGATED AMERICA.

WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU WERE FINDING FROM SOME OF THESE PLAYERS THAT DROVE THEM TO CONTINUE DESPITE ALL THE OBSTACLES?

IT'S INTERESTING.

IT WAS THEIR PASSION FOR THE SORT OF BASEBALL.

THEY WILL PLAYED BECAUSE THEY LOVED THE GAME.

THEY DIDN'T SET OUT TO CHANGE AMERICA.

THEY DIDN'T SET OUT TO INTEGRATE BASEBALL.

WHAT THEY DID WAS THEY WANTED TO PURSUE THEIR DREAMS AND THEIR DREAM HAPPENED TO BE BASEBALL.

SO IT WAS VERY INTERESTING THAT EVERY SINGLE PLAYER I INTERVIEWED I ASKED THEM DIDN'T IT MAKE YOU ANGRY EVERYTHING YOU HAD TO GO THROUGH AND WAY YOU WERE TREATED.

100% OF THEM RESPOND THE SAME WAY.

THEY ALL SAID NO, IT'S JUST THE WAY THINGS WERE.

IT WAS A DIFFERENT TIME.

SO THEIR LACK OF BITTERNESS AND ANGER IS THE THING THAT STOOD OUT THE MOST TO ME.

IF THE NEGRO LEAGUE SKILL LEVEL WAS EQUAL TO MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

SO WHAT THEY UNDERSTOOD WAS THAT THEY WERE PLAYING AT THE TOP LEVEL.

NOW, THEY WEREN'T VERY HAPPY ABOUT HAVING TO PLAY IN THEIR OWN LEAGUE BUT THE ROBE THE LEAGUE EXISTED WAS BECAUSE THEY WANTED TO PLAY THE GAME.

SO EVEN THOUGH THEY WILL WERE EXCLUDED FROM MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, THEY WOULD STILL PLAY IN STADIUMS, FOR EXAMPLE, THEY WOULD PLAY AT YANKEE STADIUM ON SUNDAYS SOMETIMES.

ONLY WHEN THE YANKEES WERE OUT OF TOWN ON A SUNDAY WERE THEY ALLOWED TO PLAY BUT THEY COULD DRAW 20,000, 30,000 PEOPLE TO YANKEE STADIUM.

SO THEY HAD THE EXPERIENCE OF PLAYING BIG-TIME BASEBALL BUT IT DEFINITELY WAS NOT THE SAME AS PLAYING IN THE MAJORS.

SOME OF THE BIGGEST STARS CAME FROM THE NEGRO LEAGUES NOT JUST JACKIE ROBINSON, SATCHEL PAGE, ET CETERA.

WHAT WAS THE REACTION ONCE THAT STARTED HAPPENING, ONCE THE NEGRO LEAGUES STARTED TO DETERIORATE?

WHEN JACKIE WAS SIGNED BY THE DONORS THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE NEGRO LEAGUES.

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STARTED HAND PICKING THE TOP PLAYERS.

IT DIMINISHED THE COMPETITIVENESS OF THE NEGRO LEAGUES NOT BASED ON THEIR PASSION TO PLAY BUT BASED ON THE TOP PLAYERS WERE NOW PLAYING FOR MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

BECAUSE OF THAT, A LOT OF THE FANS THEN WOULD NO LONGER NEED TO GO WATCH THE NEGRO LEAGUE GAMES BECAUSE THEIR FAVORITE PLAYER WAS PLAYING FOR THE DODGERS OR CLEVELAND.

THIS WAS ABOUT THE MEN AND WOMEN.

TELL ME WHAT ROLE THAT WOMEN PLAYED IN THE NEGRO LEAGUES.

THERE WERE THREE WOMEN WHO PLAYED BRIEFLY BASEBALL IN THE NEGRO LEAGUES.

I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO THE INTERVIEW THE LAST SURVIVING PLAYER, MAMIE PEANUT JOHNSON.

SHE PLAYED FOR THE INDIANAPOLIS CLOWNS AND WHELZ I INTERVIEWED HER, SHE SHARED A REALLY INTERESTING STORY WITH ME.

SHE WAS ABOUT 18 YEARS OLD AND PLAYING ON A SEMI PRO TEAM AT THE TIME AND SHE SAW A LITTLE AD IN THE PAPER FOR THEY WERE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE TO TRY OUT FOR THE ALL-AMERICAN GIRLS PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL LEAGUE.

SHE AND HER BEST FRIEND GOT ON A BUS AND TRAVELED TO THE TRYOUT.

WHEN SHE GOT THERE, SHE WAS DENIED BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF HER SKIN AND THERE WASN'T ANYTHING SHE COULD DO.

SO SHE GOT BACK ON THE BUS AND WENT BACK TO WASHINGTON, D.C.

EITHER THAT DAY OR NEXT DAY, A SCOUT WAS AT A GAME AND APPROACHED HER AFTER THE GAME AND SAID HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY FOR THE INDIANAPOLIS CLOWNS.

BECAUSE SHE WAS DENIED ACCESS TO PLAY EMPTY WOMEN'S LEAGUE, SHE WAS GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY THE IN THE NEGRO LEAGUES.

WHAT'S THE BIG TAKE AWAY THAT YOU WOULD WANT PEOPLE TO COME AWAY FROM THIS FILM WITH?

THE REASON I'M GETTING THIS FILM OUT THERE, I WANT TO PRESERVE THE LEGACY BECAUSE THESE WERE TRUE CIVIL RIGHTS TRAILBLAZER, NOT JUST ATHLETES, I WANT TO BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER.

IT'S REALLY IMPORTANT TORN PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE TO COME TOGETHER AND WATCH SOMETHING THAT CAN RELATE TO THINGS HAPPENING TODAY AND LASTLY, I REALLY WANT TO INSPIRE PEOPLE.

I THINK THAT THESE STORIES OFTEN A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO WHAT WE'RE BOMBARDED WITH DAILY.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR MAKING THIS FILM AND BOB ALL TO COLLECT THESE STORIES.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

FOR VIEWING INFORMATION ON THE OTHER BOYS OF SUMMER' VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

FRZ

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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