Celebrating the dynamic journey of Negro League Baseball’s triumphs and challenges through the first half of the 20th century, director Sam Pollard “does his thing” with his latest documentary, “The League,” in limited distribution in AMC Theaters, Monday., July 10, 7 p.m.; and Wednesday., July 12, 7:30 p.m.
While the film is a documentary, with Pollard’s spin, viewers will find it both informative and entertaining.
The story is told through previously unearthed archival footage and never-before-seen interviews with legendary players and covers entrepreneurial titans Cumberland Posey and Gus Greenlee, whose intense rivalry fueled the rise of two of the best baseball teams ever to play the game; to Effa Manley, the activist owner of the Newark Eagles and the only woman ever inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“The League” explores Black baseball as an economic and social pillar of Black communities and a stage for some of the greatest athletes to ever play the game, while also examining the unintended consequences of integration.
In addition to the use of archival film and old photos, Pollards adds drama to the documentary by shooting period recreations and creating animation, both of which add another level of cinematic “texture.”
“Fortunately, I was able to find the voices of former Negro League players because Byron Motley (whose dad, Bob Motley, had been a Negro League umpire) had interviewed and recorded many former players years ago,” said Pollard. “It was a treasure trove of wonderful voices and added immensely to the telling of the story.”
After the brief theater run, “The League” can be viewed at home on demand through most streaming and cable services including Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Yudu, and Youtube, just to name a few.