Archive for the ‘Press Articles’ Category
By Rick Postl
SIGNews staff writer
The flamboyant baseball umpire, William Klem is given credit for inventing baseball hand signals. His plaque in Cooperstown says it all; however, one would argue that necessity is the mother of all inventions.
A healthy dose of skepticism is prudent as William “Dummy” Hoy played professional ball over 18 seasons, retiring two years prior to Klem’s umpiring career that spanned 37 seasons and 18 World Series appearances. Hoy had a need to understand signals during his plate appearances.
The possibility also exists that the usage of umpire hand signals pre-dates Hoy and Klem. The media was not as interconnected as the media is nowadays and media sources show signals were in use here and there.
Cy Rigler, then a minor league umpire who is also credited with inventing the hand signals, thought he was first until he reached the majors and found the signals already in use. Going back even further, newspaper records show that Edward Dundon, the first professional deaf ball player, used hand signals during a game he umpired in 1886.
The literature shows numerous public requests and discussions in support of visible umpire signals. These were before electronic scoreboards and audible announcement systems became part of the ballpark experience.
The credit for the introduction of hand signals is a source of great controversy. Klem and Hoy are believed to have meaningfully contributed to the permanence of baseball umpire signals, given their long-term contributions to baseball. One must go to bat when appropriate credits are not given or considered among the choices.
The “Signs of the Time” is a full-length documentary, narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, that considers both sides of the arguments and begs the question of appropriate credit to the mystery of baseball’s greatest innovation– the hand signals.
The film also goes beyond the controversy in considering the spirit of meaningful interactions between deaf and hearing ballplayers.
“Signs of the Time” is directed and produced by Don Casper with Crystal Pix. Casper used to work at RIT/NTID and casted deaf contributors, consultants and actors in the film.
The documentary has achieved numerous “best documentary” honors and awards at film festivals nationwide—from New York to California. Of great honors, the documentary was selected for the “Award for Baseball Excellence at the 2009 Baseball Film Festival,” held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
“It was a highlight for us not only to screen the film at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, but to receive the Award for Baseball Excellence from the judges,” shared Casper.
The film festival is held at Cooperstown. The judging for the award was done by movie and baseball experts, not by the Hall of Fame establishment itself.
“I think that the film’s strength is its message,” shared Casper. “Many people who come to see the film think that it will be just about baseball history, or just about Hoy. But in reality these are secondary elements in the films greater message of triumph over adversity and breaking barriers of communication.”
“The success of the film transcends across all audiences—not only history buffs or baseball fans,” added Casper.
See the trailer at www.signsofthetimemovie.com for upcoming showings and DVD sales.
With the all the possibilities considered, how could Klem have achieved a consensus that he invented the signals? There are several theories.
Klem was the first umpire inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and his authoritative umpiring style is still taught in umpire academies. His contributions to baseball come without question; his boastful claims for inventing baseball signs have grown with the times.
In the film, Klem is shown asserting that he invented the standard safe and out signals used today by umpires and goes as far as to say that “… these innovations are all mine.”
We have a penchant for drama– the animated series of actions exerted by an umpire in calling a decision invokes sentimental emotions. The more empathic, authoritative the call, the more believable, confident the umpire is.
The colorful character, the contributions, and the tales created a case for Klem.
“The Hall of Fame plaque text is written in a group effort by Hall of Fame staffers,” shared Craig Muder, Director of Communications at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “The facts and statistics used on the plaque are the best available information at the time of the inscription.”
The thoroughness of the documentary creates new perspectives and credible evidences to the contrary.
Casper was asked what new conversations he is observing about Hoy’s place in Cooperstown as a result of the documentary.
“Although our film is not solely about Hoy, it has definitely raised awareness of who Hoy was,” shared Casper. “Hoy was a modest person and did not self-promote during his life/career which is perhaps why history has not recorded his contributions, so in a small way maybe our film can speak on his behalf a hundred years after the fact.”
The window of opportunity for Hoy to be enshrined in Cooperstown dims as living testimonies die with the time. This film breathes life into Hoy’s contributions through the testimonies among baseball experts and players associated with Hoy.
The film has spurred on some conversation among baseball enthusiasts according to Casper. “Many hearing people who come to see the film have never heard of Hoy and many leave the film fascinated with his story and want to know more about what can be done,” said Casper.
It would be a vastly different ball game if appropriate credits are given to Hoy among the collective contributors to hand signals. Until then, this is a debate worth fighting for and the documentary, reaching an international, mainstream audience does a great service.
Graduate and former teacher at St. Mary’s stars in documentary about man who changed baseball
Baseball fans may not know the name Dummy Hoy but his century-old record — the Washington Senators outfielder threw out three base runners at home plate in one inning — still stands.
Yet Hoy’s records — he also stole a National League-leading 82 bases in 1888 — are not the reason people will line up today to see “Signs of the Time,” a documentary with a distinctive Buffalo bent.
• Video: Watch the film’s trailer
They will watch it because William Ellsworth Hoy — he preferred the nickname “Dummy” — is best known as the deaf ballplayer who introduced hand signals to major league baseball.
And they will come because the actor playing Hoy is Angola native Michael Barreca, a graduate and former assistant teacher at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf.
“He had never acted before,” said Don Casper, the film’s director and producer. “But he’s an athlete, and we wanted to find someone who had the baseball chops.”
Barreca, 34, was working at St. Mary’s, where he starred in track, soccer and basketball as a student, when he successfully auditioned for the role. His scenes were shot outside of Rochester.
“There’s an inherent acting that comes through sign language,” Casper said of Barreca, “because a lot of it is gesture and facial expression, and being that it is his native language, in essence, I think, it came kind of easy to him.”
Although named national soccer player of the year by a deaf association in his senior year at St. Mary’s, Barreca’s best sport was baseball, said Paul Crowley, St. Mary’s director of student affairs. Unfortunately, the school lacked a team.
“He was one of the best athletes we ever had in our school’s history,” Crowley said of Barreca — who, like an older brother, was born deaf.
Having been instructed in baseball at an early age by his father, the switch-hitting Barreca played on a team at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, and later in Buffalo baseball leagues.
“I’m very proud of him,” said Kathie Barreca, Michael’s mother. “My husband had a brain tumor and died in 1990, and he was a Yankees fan and baseball was his whole life. I know he would have been so proud of my son with this movie. There are parts that are just so Michael, and so my husband, like the character’s honesty.”
The 60-minute documentary, narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, screens at 2 p.m. today in the downtown Market Arcade Theatre.
When Hoy’s 14-year, six-team major-league career began in 1888, there were no umpire hand signals. Hoy invented a series of them with his third-base coach to follow the umpire’s calls behind the plate.
“He was left-handed, with a direct view of third base, so the coach would signal strikes and balls,” Casper said from the Fairport office of film company Crystal Pix. “Many people feel this was the inspiration that eventually led to umpires adopting the hand signals. … we know today in 1909, when they that became league mandated for all umpires.”
The growth of baseball stadiums also made it imperative that hand signals come into use, Casper said.
The Buffalo Niagara Film Festival is the 15th festival “Signs of the Time” has been entered in. It won top honors in 2009 for “Baseball Excellence” at the Cooperstown Baseball Film Festival, and “Best Documentary” at the SoCal Independent Film Festival.
Casper said he is exploring distribution opportunities and expects the film to be released on home video later this year.
Casper and Kathie Barreca plan to attend today’s screening. Barreca, a married father of two who now lives in Barnesville, Ohio, and teaches sign language at West Virginia Community College, had wanted to attend, but won’t be able to due to transportation problems, his mother said.
News Staff Reporter Phil Fairbanks contributed to this report.
Here’s a link to a recent article posted on Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf…
Troika of movies take home hardware in event’s fourth year
By Bill Francis / National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Published: 10/05/2009 2:10 PM ET
As big league baseball’s regular season came to a conclusion, except in the American League’s Central Division, the Fourth Annual Baseball Film Festival was ending another successful run.
The three-day long event, held at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, ran from Friday through Sunday. In all, 13 films of varied baseball subject matter, ranging in length from 12 to 90 minutes, were shown at the Hall’s Bullpen Theater.
The festivities came to an end Sunday afternoon with three awards handed out at a closing ceremony in the Museum’s Grandstand Theater. Capturing the Best Film Award was The Lost Son of Havana, the Award for Baseball Excellence went to Signs of the Time, and El Play captured the Award for Film Making Excellence.
Reached by telephone after the awards were presented, an overjoyed Kris Meyer, a producer of The Lost Son of Havana who represented the film in Cooperstown along with Executive Producer Bobby Farrelly when it was shown Friday, said, “It has been an incredible honor to make a film about one of baseball’s legends, and to screen it in Cooperstown at the Baseball Film Festival and to win it is just icing on the cake.
“Hopefully, we’ll return with another film soon.” The Lost Son of Havana documented former Major League pitching star Luis Tiant’s emotional return to his home in Cuba after 46 years in exile, and Signs of the Time examined the complicated history of hand signals in baseball. “Just blown away,” said Signs of the Time Director Don Casper when asked for his thoughts afterwards. “To receive an award for baseball excellence from Cooperstown is a real honor, especially when you make a baseball film. Being here for three days, seeing the quality of films that we were up against, it makes it even more special because there were really a lot of great quality films here.”
El Play told the story of an aspiring Dominican ballplayer from the baseball hotbed of San Pedro de Macoris and his struggles as he chases his dream of becoming a professional.
“This is thrilling,” said El Play‘s director and producer, Pablo Medina, while clutching his award. “Just having gotten into this film festival is an honor as much as winning. I was not expecting it, and I’m not being modest.”
Judging this year’s Baseball Film Festival entrants were Jeff Katz, a baseball author/writer living in Cooperstown, Oneonta (N.Y.) Daily Star sportswriter P.J. Harmer, and Rob Edelman, a professor of film history at the University of Albany and the author of The Great Baseball Films. “I enjoy all of the films,” Katz said. “There was just a wide variety of subject matter. And even the films that weren’t award winners you could tell there was a real passion behind it.
“But I will say that I’m just endlessly impressed with The Lost Son of Havana. That really was one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen, let alone a great baseball film. It was so well done and so emotional.” According to Stephen Light, the Hall’s manager of museum programs, the more than 20 films submitted and 13 shown were records for the four-year-old festival.
“I thought it was a great film festival because of the strength and diversity of the films,” Light said. “We had so many different topics and it just showed, I think, the strength of baseball as a film topic.”
Bill Francis is a library associate for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle – Rochester,NY,USA
Much has changed about Signs of the Time since the locally produced documentary premiered at the George Eastman House last year.
Academy Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss is the new narrator.
Major League Baseball footage has been added, including the controversial 1975 World Series play involving Cincinnati batter Ed Armbrister and Boston catcher Carlton Fisk.
And the 60-minute baseball film is on the festival trail, already winning “Best Documentary” at the High Falls Festival in Rochester last May and the SoCal Film Festival in Huntington Beach, Calif., last weekend.
“It’s a different film (from the original version),” said executive producer Ray Manard of Crystal Pix, a production company in Fairport.
“But the film is more than just about baseball. It’s about communication.”
Signs explores the contributions of deaf baseball player Dummy Hoy and legendary umpire Bill Klem, a Rochester native, toward the development of hand signals used in baseball.
It’s one of 13 films playing this weekend at the fourth annual Baseball Film Festival at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Signs is up for three awards: Best Film, the Award for Baseball Excellence and the Award for Film Making Excellence. The movie will be shown tonight along with The Lost Son of Havana, which chronicles the return to Cuba of Luis Tiant after 46 years.
Don Casper, the director of Signs of the Time, will be in Cooperstown to speak about the film.
Nearly 200 actors, writers, directors and producers worked on the film over a five-year period. Signs includes interviews with Hall of Famers Bob Feller, Earl Weaver and Brooks Robinson.
When the festival season ends, the film will have been shown in about 20 venues. In addition to Cooperstown, it also will be shown this weekend in Tacoma, Wash., and Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Coming up, it’s Secret City, Tenn. (mid-October); Celebration, Fla. (late October); and the Red Rock Film Fest in Utah (November).
Crystal Pix executives originally compiled a long wish list of possible narrators, including George Clooney, Harrison Ford and Billy Crystal.
“We wanted an actor with a good voice, and we wanted someone recognizable,” Manard said.
Dreyfuss won a Best Actor Oscar for The Goodbye Girl in 1977 and was nominated in 1995 for Mr. Holland’s Opus. He also was on the list. When he said “yes,” the search ended.
“He has a connection to deaf culture through Mr. Holland’s Opus,” Manard said. “I’m not sure why he decided to work with us, but it may have been that.”
Dreyfuss was in New York City last October promoting the movie W (he plays Dick Cheney), and Crystal Pix execs met him there to record the narration.
Including the Armbrister-Fisk play also was a coup. The filmmakers had to take the footage out of the original due to Major League Baseball restrictions. Now it is included.
In the 10th inning of Game 3 of the 1975 World Series, Armbrister collided with Fisk while attempting to sacrifice bunt. Fisk threw wildly to second base in an attempt to throw out Cesar Geronomo, and the Reds went on to win 4-3. Plate umpire Larry Barnett was criticized for not calling interference on Armbrister.
“Back that, there was no signal for interference,” Manard said. “All (Barnett) could do was point ‘fair ball.’ He couldn’t communicate ‘no interference.'”
Now, there is a signal for such a play.
“That controversy demonstrates the need for communication with the umpire and players on the field,” Manard said.
Crystal Pix eventually hopes to sell Signs of the Time to a network and then market it for home distribution. MLB Network, ESPN, A&E, The History Channel and the new Smithsonian Channel and Documentary Channel are possible buyers.
© 2009, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Three-day event highlights baseball on big screen
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Published: 09/08/2009 8:51 PM ET
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will recognize the twin traditions of baseball and film when, for the fourth consecutive year, it hosts the Baseball Film Festival in Cooperstown, Oct. 2-4.
Thirteen films, with themes ranging from women in baseball to a baseball league in Israel, will be screened on Friday, Oct. 2, through Sunday, Oct. 4, as filmmakers compete for three awards given at the conclusion of the festival: the Best Film Award, the Award for Baseball Excellence and the Award for Film Making Excellence.
Tickets for the screening of Film Festival entries are free of charge but are limited and must be reserved. Members can reserve their tickets immediately, and any remaining seats will made available to the general public beginning Monday, Sept. 28, by calling the Membership Department at 607-547-0397 or by visiting the membership desk in the Museum. The awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, Oct. 4, at 3 p.m. in the Grandstand Theater and is open to the public. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.
A complete list of the films to be screened and competing for top honors during the weekend:
Friday, Oct. 2, 6 p.m.
The Lost Son of Havana (105 min.)
After 46 years in exile, former Major League Baseball star Luis Tiant returns to Cuba, where he encounters unexpected demons and receives unexpected gifts from his family.
Signs of the Time (60 min.)
Where did baseball hand signals come from? In exploring this seemingly simple question, the feature-length documentary Signs of the Time unveils stories of inspiration and controversy that transcend sports. Narrated by Academy Award-winner Richard Dreyfuss, the film unravels the mystery surrounding baseball’s greatest innovation.
Saturday, Oct. 3, 9 a.m.
Girls of Summer (85 min.)
A positive, respectful look at the WBL Sparks, the first all-girls baseball team to compete in a boys’ national tournament at the Cooperstown Dreams Park in Cooperstown, N.Y. Interspersed throughout the WBL Sparks’ story are historical segments telling the personal stories of the women who, since the mid-1850s, have played, coached and umpired baseball.
Major Leagues? (25 min.)
This story from Cuban filmmaker Ernesto Perez Zambrano tells the story of women taking the field and playing baseball in Cuba.
Saturday, Oct. 3, 12:30 p.m.
We Believe (100 min.)
From the director of The U.S. vs. John Lennon comes a new documentary film celebrating the unusual love affair between a great city, Chicago, and one of its baseball teams, the Cubs. Like any relationship, it has its highs and lows, joys and sorrows, moments of exhilaration and heartbreak. About hope, faith, optimism and loyalty, this film is about America, family and tradition. But first and foremost, We Believe is an entertaining movie, packed with emotion, humor, wonderful human moments and unique insight.
The Farm Team (15 min.)
A first-hand look at the challenges of the grounds crew of a Minor League Baseball team in Mobile, Ala., the rainiest city in the United States. It’s a portrait of three hard-working guys who not only love the sport of baseball, but also the field the game is played on.
Saturday, Oct. 3, 3:30 p.m.
A Braves New World (55 min.)
A Braves New World chronicles how the “Miracle in Milwaukee” began the shift westward of America’s pastime. Includes seldom-seen archival footage and photos, along with over 25 on-camera interviews, including former Braves players, management and sportswriters.
Saturday, Oct. 3, 7 p.m.
She’s Baseball Mad! (12 min.)
Did women save Major League Baseball in Seattle? A look at the female connection with baseball and the role women played in building the most family-friendly ballpark in the nation.
Road to the Big Leagues (60 min.)
How does a tiny island roughly the size of Connecticut produce baseball superstars like Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, Hanley Ramirez, Sammy Sosa and David Ortiz? Have you ever wondered what their journey was like to the pros? What about for the thousands that try but never make it big? Road to the Big Leagues tells the story of one of baseball’s most-heralded breeding grounds, the Dominican Republic, and provides a close examination of its special brand of baseball.
A Shortstop in China (50 min.)
Shortly after being enshrined in Cooperstown, Cal Ripken Jr. was named public diplomacy envoy by the U.S. State Department. True to form, America’s Iron Man embraced the challenge of his new career as diplomat. His first mission: travel to China and share the game of baseball — the Ripken Way.
Sunday, Oct. 4, 9 a.m.
El Play (30 min.)
El Play tells the story of Jairo Candelario, a young aspiring baseball player from San Pedro de Macoris, a small city in the Dominican Republic famous for birthing some of the world’s most talented baseball players. The film paints a detailed portrait of Jairo and his tireless commitment to the game as he balances his hopes of signing a professional contract with the reality of its improbability. Interviewed are professional scouts, coaches, family members, a baseball historian and San Pedro-born Robinson Cano, the second baseman of the New York Yankees.
Holy Land Hardball (83 min.)
When Boston bagelmaker Larry Baras wanted to create a professional baseball league in Israel, his idea was met with incredulity, dismissal and even hostility. He attempted it anyway. Among the ballplayers swept up in his unlikely quest: a 41-year-old father of three with a Peter Pan complex; a 27-year-old Brooklyn artist/DJ still finding himself after the disappointment of not being drafted out of college; a 34-year-old father-to-be whose own father, now deceased, fought for Israel’s independence in 1948; and a 22-year-old African-American who was told by a preacher at a young age he would one day “play in front of God’s people.” Also along for the ride are former Jewish Major Leaguers Art Shamsky, Ken Holtzman and Ron Blomberg as team managers in the Israel Baseball League.
Sunday, Oct. 4, 1 p.m.
Ghost Players (54 min.)
Field of Dreams Ghost Players is a documentary that chronicles the adventures and misadventures of a boisterous and unlikely team of middle-aged Iowa baseball players. In 1989, Hollywood went to Iowa to shoot Field of Dreams. Little did anyone know this blockbuster would spawn a comedic baseball show starring local ballplayers that had an 18-year run and traveled the world.
‘Signs of the Time’ salutes William Klemm and Dummy Hoy as baseball originators.
BY DAVE RICHARDS firstname.lastname@example.org
Erie-Times News 9-3-2009
The base runner slides into home, the catcher tags him, and the umpire emphatically gestures with his thumb. You know he’s out. If you attended a ballgame around the turn of the 20th century, though, you’d be clueless. In baseball’s early days, umpires shouted their calls. They didn’t use their arms or thumbs, and ballparks had no announcers to tell you anything. So how did baseball signals originate? The story is trickier than spotting a balk. Rochester director Don Casper’s documentary “Signs of the Time” — partly filmed at Ainsworth Field — zeroes in on the two most likely candidates. Pioneering umpire William Klemm, a member of baseball’s Hall of Fame, is credited on his Cooperstown plaque with introducing arm signals. Deaf player William “Dummy” Hoy, who mostly played for the Cincinnati Reds, developed a system of hand signals with his third-base coach so he’d know if pitches were balls or strikes. He retired in 1902 — three years before Klemm started umpiring.
“Signs of the Time,” narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, includes re-enactments with actors playing Hoy and Klemm. “Both of these individuals lived lives before movie cameras were [prevalent] and, in some cases, there are not a lot of photos of them,” Casper said. “So to tell the story of what kind of people they were, we re-enacted key moments or slices of life from their careers to demonstrate their personalties. “That’s really what the film’s about — illustrating what kind of people they were.” For scenes with Klemm, Casper needed a ballpark that could replicate the early 1920s. Ainsworth Field fit the bill. “We chose Erie because it had a great look to it, and No. 2, the people we met there in charge of the field were really excited about it,” Casper said. Glenwood League players donned vintage uniforms to play period ballplayers in the scene. About 100 or so area residents wore period clothing for Ainsworth crowd shots. One long day of shooting in Erie resulted a three-minute scene.
For Hoy’s scenes, Casper shot at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Rochester, which replicates a 19th-century village, including a ballpark. Hoy’s scenes take place in 1887, when he played for Oshkosh, Wis. Casper said “Signs” leaves it up to audiences to draw their own conclusions about who deserves credit for inventing signs. But it’s clear where his heart lies. He became interested in making the film while working as a TV director and producer at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, a federally funded deaf college in Rochester. “I found a group of deaf individuals who were trying to campaign to get their hero Dummy Hoy inducted into the hall of fame based on his career and what he contributed by inventing hand signals. I had never heard of Dummy, so I started reading more about him and the efforts to get him recognized and thought it was an interesting story.” Hoy racked up more than 2,000 career hits and still ranks among baseball’s all-time Top 20 base stealers. He died at age 99 in 1961. He hasn’t made it to Cooperstown yet, but is enshrined in the Cincinnati’s Hall of Fame. Casper said he was too modest to campaign for his own induction. “Hoy was the type of guy who was real humble. He wasn’t the type who was going to go out there and stand on a mountain top and claim credit for everything. He felt, ‘Well, my accomplishments will be recognized.’ That’s not necessarily the way the history books are written.”
“Signs of the Time” also includes interviews with such baseball notables as Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson, Fred Lynn, and Bob Feller. Oscar-winner Dreyfuss adds marquee value and more by narrating. “He played the father of a deaf character in ‘Mr. Holland’s Opus,’ a great role of his. He had experience dealing with a lot of issues in movies, like striking down the barriers of communication and learning sign language — all themes the movie deals with,” Casper said. “So we thought it was a good fit, and apparently he agreed.” Casper and others involved with “Signs of the Time” will attend the Erie premiere. It’s open to everyone — including the deaf. “That’s why we’ve subtitled the movie, so everyone can enjoy the film,” he said.
“Signs of the Time” will be shown Saturday at 7 p.m. during the Spirit Quest Film Fest at the Erie Playhouse, 13 W. 10th St. Admission is $5 at the door. Tickets also available online at http://www.spiritquestfilmfest.com