'Blackball,' the legacy of Babe Ruth and Harlem

HOWIE EVANS AmNews Sports Editor | 9/28/2012, 5:02 p.m.
'Blackball,' the legacy of Babe Ruth and Harlem


'Blackball,' the legacy of Babe Ruth and Harlem

An impressive and very knowledgeable audience participated in an exclusive preview of the soon-to-be released documentary film "Black Ball," which is based on the unique and warm relationship that the legendary Babe Ruth had with the Harlem community.

A film that should travel around the country, this is an extremely educational, heart-warming documentary and important work.

The filmmaking team of Byron Hunter and Edward Harris II dug deep into their research, bringing the story about the relationship between "The Bambino" and the village of Harlem to light. "Universal Babe," as documented by Hunter and Harris, shared many moments with some of the greatest Black players in history, such as Josh Gibson, James "Cool Papa" Bell, Monte Irvin, Hank Aaron, Don Newcombe and other Black baseball legends who were banned from the Major Leagues.

The audience also received a "legendary" bonus when Hunter introduced Jim Robinson, a legend and Hall of Famer who lived through those years of discrimination and the knowledge that he and his fellow players would never get the opportunity to play in the big leagues. It was the highlight of the screening, as Robinson answered questions from the audience, spelling out exactly what it was like to be treated like a second-class citizen. His tales of life as a player in the Negro Leagues brought laughter and head-shaking as he recalled being the designated "Go Check Out the Place," meaning he would have to ask whether he and his fellow teammates would be permitted to eat or get a room at an establishment.

Yes, there was laughter, coupled with groans of disbelief.

The event was further blessed by Rod Ivey, an extremely gifted artist whose work includes portraits of Robinson and other Black artists and lines the walls of the LeRoy Neiman Arts Center. Stay in touch to hear more about the premiere of "Black Ball" by calling 212-862-2787 or reading the Amsterdam News.