HOLY LAND HARDBALL MAKES ITS NATIONAL TELEVISION PREMIERE ON MLB NETWORK SUNDAY, JANUARY 10
Documentary film about the making of the Israel Baseball League is first of three independent films to air on MLB Network this month
Cobb Field & Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey to follow on January 17 & 24
Secaucus, NJ, January 5, 2010 – The formation of the Israel Baseball League (IBL) in 2007 and the mission to bring professional baseball to the Middle East is the focus of the documentary film Holy Land Hardball, which makes its national television premiere on MLB Network on Sunday, January 10 at 10:00 p.m. ET. The film follows Massachusetts-based entrepreneur and IBL founder Larry Baras, former Boston Red Sox general manager and director of IBL baseball operations Dan Duquette, and the IBL staff from the league’s first tryouts in Massachusetts to the first pitch on June 24, 2007 in Petach Tikva, Israel. The IBL went on to play one 45-game season among six teams in the summer 2007.
Holy Land Hardball first premiered at the Silverdocs AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Film Festival on June 19, 2008 and features Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis and former Major Leaguers Art Shamsky, Ken Holtzman and Ron Blomberg. Variety said of the film, “You don’t have to be Jewish or understand a box score to embrace [this] crowd-pleasing national-pastime docu.” Holy Land Hardball was directed and produced by Brett Rapkin and Erik Kesten of 24/6 Studio Productions. A preview of the film can be viewed here. Dan Duquette and former IBL players Nate Fish and Eric Holtz will appear in an interview together on MLB Network’s Hot Stove on Friday, January 8 at 6:00 p.m. ET.
Cobb Field explores the world of Minor League Baseball and examines twenty-four hours in the life of Cobb Field, a sixty-year old ballpark in Billings, Montana and the home of the Pioneer League Billings (Montana) Mustangs, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Shot in 2007 during the last weeks of Cobb Field’s existence, filmmaker Craig Lindvahl followed players and former players – including Jim Kaat and Gary Redus – coaches, umpires, announcers, fans, groundskeepers and many others. The film was an official selection of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum Film Festival in 2008 and won three Mid-America Emmy Awards in 2008.
Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey is a documentary about former Major League Baseball pitcher Bill “The Spaceman” Lee, his colorful career with the Boston Red Sox and the Montreal Expos, and his travels playing baseball internationally since his departure from MLB in 1982. Shot in Boston, Miami, Vermont and throughout Cuba, the film features several of Lee’s former teammates, including Luis Tiant, Fred Lynn, Bernie Carbo and Rodney Scott, as well as former manager Dick Williams and Lee’s aunt, former All-American Girls Baseball League pitcher Annabelle “Lefty” Lee. Produced by Brett Rapkin and Josh Dixon, Spaceman was released in 2006 and was a special selection of the Woods Hole Film Festival and an original selection of the Silverdocs AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival.
All three films are part of the “Reel Hardball” franchise, which will be presented on MLB Network by Golden Corral.
“MLB Network is proud to give three interesting and distinctive baseball documentaries an opportunity to be seen by a national audience,” said MLB Network President & CEO Tony Petitti. “As we enter our second year, we will continue to present our viewers with different viewpoints of the sport.”
“One of the greatest challenges facing any independent production is finding the right distribution partners. MLB Network represents a fantastic opportunity for the best indie baseball films to now reach their intended audience on a large scale,” said filmmaker P.J. Moynihan, who partnered with fellow filmmaker Brett Rapkin to package and brand all three films under the series banner “Reel Hardball.”
MLB Network launched on January 1, 2009 as the largest debut in cable television history and is currently available in approximately 54 million cable and satellite homes. With live games, original programming, highlights, classic games, and coverage of baseball events, MLB Network is the ultimate television destination for baseball fans. For more information and to find MLB Network in your area, go to mlbnetwork.com.
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