'Untold Stories of the Desegregation of Baseball' documentary premieres


(BPT) - Did you know, that as a young man, Abraham Lincoln was a formidable wrestler and out of 300 matches, only lost one? Or that Congress voted for our independence from Britain on July 2, 1776, not on the Fourth of July?

Like these facts, there are hundreds of other little-known stories of American history that rarely get told.

For instance, while many know about Jackie Robinson and his struggle to break the color barrier, not everyone realizes that even after he successfully joined the Dodgers, the process of desegregation was far from over.

“It’s worth remembering that it’s the end of that 1947 season that really marks Robinson’s triumph,” says filmmaker Gaspar González, who has produced documentaries for PBS, ESPN and others. “He had endured the hatred and racist threats directed at him to not only prove that he belonged in the Major Leagues but to lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to the World Series. Getting through that season — excelling the way he did — ensured that other players of color would follow.”

While Robinson opened the doors, what followed was a decades-long struggle to break down America’s racial barriers and for the game of baseball to become truly integrated.

It's this untold story that González tells in his new film, "A Long Way from Home: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Desegregation," which chronicles the struggles and triumphs of the pioneering black and Afro-Latino players who played minor-league ball in small, remote towns where racial segregation remained a fact of life well into the 1960s. These are the men who, before they could live their dreams, first had to beat Jim Crow and follow Jackie Robinson into white professional baseball.

The 45-minute documentary sheds light on the struggle toward racial equality in baseball, featuring original interviews with James “Mudcat” Grant, Grover “Deacon” Jones, Jimmy Wynn, J.R. Richard, Tony Pérez and Orlando Cepeda. These former MLB stars endured racism on and off the field to pursue their big-league dreams — ultimately playing a significant role in making America’s pastime truly open to all.

To commemorate the 70th anniversary of Robinson’s trailblazing inaugural season, TV One will show "A Long Way from Home" with an exclusive early preview on video on demand (VOD) of the documentary, available now through Oct. 31. Following its VOD preview, the documentary will be added to TV One’s February 2018 broadcast schedule.

Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, "A Long Way from Home" has enjoyed select screenings in Washington, D.C.; Houston; Miami; and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. “NEH is proud to support this important project, which we hope will inspire broader conversations about the changing meanings of race, equality and freedom in American civic life and culture,” said Margaret Plympton, former acting chair, National Endowment for the Humanities.

To watch the trailer and learn more about the film, visit www.longwayfromhomemovie.com.