The Untold Truth will show the overall history of the Negro Baseball Leagues; from newly freed slaves playing the game in the fields they once sowed, to the inventions of the batting helmet and night baseball that came from the Negro Baseball Leagues, to the thriving hotels, jazz clubs, and restaurants that supported "Black Baseball," to the most “Ironic” moment in sports history, and finally, an examination of the players, coaches, and owners from the leagues that spawned a bridge and legacy to so many success stories in today's sports, music, entertainment, and political fields. Using interviews with iconic figures from today’s pop culture to tell the story, the film brings social awareness to the Negro Baseball Leagues; the great achievements, undeniable facts, and true life stories that have been lost, forgotten, deemed not important, and to some…invisible. Thus, through The Untold Truth…one of the most important times in American History is brought to light.
The story begins with our look at an early version of “Black Baseball” in the United States in the mid 1800’s – newly freed slaves are playing baseball in the fields they once sowed, a game they brought to the states from the Caribbean. And while some baseball experts tell you Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball, we have proof that people of color were playing a game similar to baseball going all the way back to Egyptian times.
As the story moves into the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s, the film examines African American players playing on white teams and some even form their own teams in the north and western regions of the US. It does not last long, as there is a “gentleman’s agreement” between white owners, managers, and players to disallow blacks from playing on white teams and leagues.
The 1920’s have young, hungry, and business-savvy black men and women form their own teams and leagues. Names like Rube Foster, Gus Greenlee, and Effa Manley (the first female owner of a sports franchise) created teams and leagues with a style of play that was fast, daring, and crowd-pleasing. They owned the teams, the stadiums, and the team busses. Inventions like the screwball, the batting helmet, the hit and run, and even “Night Baseball” were created in the early Negro Leagues. In 1924…modeling themselves after the Major Leagues, the early Negro Baseball Leagues had the first “Colored World Series” between Philadelphia’s own Hillsdale Stars and the Chicago American Giants.
And like many businesses in the early 1930’s the Negro Baseball Leagues were brought to their knees by the Great Depression, but like many white businesses made a full recovery to prosper both on and off the field by mid-to-late 30’s. Teams like the Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords, and Kansas City Monarchs were the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Yankees of the Negro Leagues with superstars Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and Buck Leonard showing off to sell-out crowds of both black…and white fans. There is a story of Satchel Paige in an All-Star Exhibition Game with white players, where he had the defense sit down on the field while he struck out the side. Negro Baseball Leagues All-Star Games drew crowds larger than the Major League Baseball All-Star Games; the results were not pleasing to Major League Baseball. Thus, another fearful reason or two to keep blacks out of the majors – too much show, too much bravado, and too much talent.
The Negro Baseball Leagues gave players with the best ability the opportunity to play the game, not limited to accepting Latin, Jewish, and female players on their teams. In the Negro Baseball Leagues - Everybody gets three strikes, everybody gets four balls, and everybody gets a home run when you knock it over the wall. As in all sports, the game is the same between lines. Baseball, black or white, was one place the players felt safe and they made the best of the times with fun, friendship, family and fair play.
By the 1940’s, black businesses were thriving – hotels, restaurants, barbershops, and Jazz clubs found great success when centered on teams like the Grays, Monarchs, Clowns, Black Yankees, and Black Crackers. Celebrities like Olympic hero Jesse Owens, Heavy-weight Champ Joe Louis, and legendary singer Lena Horne found their way to black baseball parks just as Jazz legends Lionel Hampton, Louis Armstrong, and Cab Calloway hung out with players…and even owned their own traveling teams. It was not all roses for the players and the league itself had a lot of adversities to overcome. America was dealing with racism and unfair prejudice in social and business practices while struggling as a young country trying to find its identity. War had broken out and many “negroes” from the Negro Baseball Leagues were asked to fight racism on foreign soil, and then come back to the same racism in their own country. African Americans pressed the button…asking, “If I can fight for my country, why can’t I play baseball in my country?”
In 1945 the Kansas City Monarchs very own Jackie Robinson answered the call, when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers signed him to a Major League contract. He would spend a year in Montreal, and then on April 15, 1947 he would take the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the most “ironic” moment in sports history. You see, with Robinson “breaking the color barrier” it opened the floodgate for more African Americans to prosper on the field…for white owners and white businesses. Within 10 years, the Negro Baseball Leagues were dead and so where the black owned businesses…gone were the hotels, restaurants, and Jazz clubs. And to many, gone was the history of life and times of the Negro Baseball Leagues.
The bridge to today’s successes by African Americans can be traced to the Negro Baseball Leagues…some directly, as in the case of Tiger Woods and Jesse Jackson whose fathers both played in the Negro Baseball Leagues. Others were passed the torch, like the early days of the Negro Baseball Leagues…the Hip Hop music labels carry the same mantra as the early owners, players, and fans of the Negro Baseball Leagues – “If you do not let me in your club, I will create my own club.”
The documentary will have the look and feel of a "feature film"...using the most updated digital cameras, high-end graphics packages, cool editing similar to The Kid Stays In The Picture, special effects, and edited to an original music soundtrack using Platinum artists from Hip Hop, Rap, Pop, and Jazz.