Los Angeles, CA, April 7, 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 will air on MLB Network on Sunday, April 11th at 8:00 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, Cobb Field: A Day at the Ballpark, and Spaceman: A Baseball Odyssey, are part of the Reel Hardball franchise – an annual series that matches the spirit of independent filmmaking with a global passion for the game of baseball. Reel Hardball first aired on MLB Network during January of 2010, and is presented by Golden Corral.
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.
Cobb Field: A Day at the Ballpark explores the world of Minor League Baseball via 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 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.
“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 Rapkin to package and brand all three films under the Reel Hardball banner.