New Meetup: Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story@ Laemmle Music Hall 3 November 19th

From: Philip
Sent on: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 1:49 AM
Announcing a new Meetup for Los Angeles Film Enthusiasts!

What: Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story@ Laemmle Music Hall 3 November 19th

When: Friday, November 19,[masked]:00 PM

Where: Laemmle's Music Hall 3
9036 Wilshire Blvd (between Doheny & Wetherly)
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

This caught my eye on the Laemmle Theatres flyer. I will get more details about the movie start time as it gets closer. You can find me in the lobby before the film in my blue dodgers jacket.

Film Summary
JEWS AND BASEBALL: AN AMERICAN LOVE STORY portrays the contributions of Jewish major leaguers and the special meaning that baseball has had in the lives of American Jews. More than a film about sports, this is a story of immigration, assimilation, bigotry, heroism, the passing on of traditions, and the shattering of stereotypes.

The story is brought to life through Dustin Hoffman's narration, and interviews with dozens of passionate and articulate fans, writers, executives, and especially players including Al Rosen, Kevin Youkilis, Shawn Green, Bob Feller, Yogi Berra, and a rare interview with the Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. Fans including Ron Howard and Larry King connect the stories of baseball to their own lives, and to the turbulent history of the last century. Their stories are inter-cut with dramatic and never-before-seen film clips and photos of great Jewish players, unforgettable games, and the broad sweep of American history.

Here is a review by Geoff Pevere:

You don't have to be a fan to know that baseball has never been just baseball. If you read enough fiction, or have a friend or two so inclined, you know that the sport is also a vast, stadium-sized repository: a place for filling with metaphor, hopes, dreams and passionate devotion.

For many American Jews, whose 19th-century immigration to the U.S. coincided with the sport's first popular surge following the Civil War, the game was not only a cheap form of amusement for kids who needed nothing more than sticks and a ball to play it, it was a means of assimilation and acceptance. If you could play baseball, you could not only find yourself in a shared-goal activity, you had a crack at the American dream. Baseball, among other things, offered glory to every kid on the field.

However, as Peter Miller's documentary Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story demonstrates, it was a glory that was hard-won. Many of the first Jewish baseball players changed their names to pass more easily, and even the great Hank Greenberg endured torrents of abuse from the bleachers wherever he played. Indeed, when Greenberg saw how much racial abuse Jackie Robinson was subjected to as the sport's first black professional, he reassured him that nothing mattered but the playing and that Robinson was a great ball player.

This is the other thing about the sport that Miller's documentary, gamely narrated by Dustin Hoffman, exploits to considerable crowd-pleasing effect: baseball is ultimately greater than any of the individual differences of its players. If you play well, all is forgiven and forgotten, and ultimately only Jews are left to make an issue ? and a proud one at that ? that Jews from Greenberg to Al Rosen to Sandy Koufax and Kevin Youkilis are not just ballplayers but Jewish ballplayers.

Not being a fan, I was especially fascinated by the front-page controversies surrounding both Greenberg and Koufax's decisions not to play ball during high holidays, and the impact of their decisions on Jewish fans everywhere.

I doubt there's much here any die-hard fan doesn't already know, but having it retold from the perspective of a struggling, respect-hungry community merely makes the metaphoric affinities of the game that much more persuasive. The story of the rise of Jews in baseball ? this being a community which is so often stereotyped as having zero athletic skill ? is also the story of an idealized, storybook-alternative America: a place where everyone is accepted, differences are transcended, and everyone gets a crack at glory, as long as they respect the rules and knock it out of the park once in a while.

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