NEW YORK -- Filmmaker Lauren Meyer is a fan of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, which is located in Kansas City. She loves looking at the baseball artifacts and hearing the stories about the leagues from museum president Bob Kendrick.
However, the museum has been closed since March 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, Meyer was looking for a way to make money for the museum. On Saturday afternoon, she decided to show her documentary, “The Other Boys Of Summer," on Zoom. No, it’s not about the Brooklyn Dodgers. It’s about players who had fun showing their talents in the Negro Leagues. Baseball fans paid $25 to watch the documentary and the proceeds went to the museum.
“It was a wonderful gesture on Lauren’s part because this was her idea,” Kendrick said. “She was looking ... to find a way to use the film to help raise some additional support for the museum during this coronavirus shutdown. She and I have become great friends. As a result of the various greetings that we have done together, this is unprecedented for her. She has not shown the film this way. She took this endeavor on. I think we were pleased by the response. We had a solid number of people.”
Said Meyer, “We want to make sure we can honor the [Negro Leagues] players. With the museum doors closed right now, I thought what better way to partner with Bob and give people the opportunity to inspire and have them enjoy the film at home. We can also support the museum. That’s kind of going forward.”
It was a documentary worth watching. One will walk away from the film with a deeper and richer appreciation for just how great the Negro Leagues were. There were a handful Negro Leagues players Meyer spoke to, from Monte Irvin to John “Mule” Miles. None of them expressed bitterness toward playing in a segregated society. MLB didn’t integrate until 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. There were days when the players didn’t have a place to stay during road trips, so the next alternative was to stay at a funeral home.
But that didn’t stop the Negro Leagues players from displaying their great talents on the diamond. Hall of Famers such as Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson made their mark in the Negro Leagues, which were formed in 1920. Their style of play made baseball exciting and fun to watch. There was Paige, for example, blowing hitters away on a regular basis with his fastball and breaking ball. Who can forget the power Gibson displayed at the plate? Legend has it that he hit a ball completely out of old Yankee Stadium.
Not only did players show that they could play the game, the Negro Leagues showed that the game could innovate. The Negro Leagues created the batting helmet, shin guards for catchers and night baseball.
“For me, it was about hearing the stories firsthand and it wasn’t about the statistics,” Meyer said. “It was the human story that captured my interest. That made me fall in love with the players.”