La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Baseball movies, present and future

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: April 12, 2013 - 12:29 PM

Looks like the snowball fight between the Twins and Mets is on for tonight. Anyway, let's talk cinema.

This weekend marks the national release of, '42,' the movie that brings to life Jackie Robinson's arrival to the major leagues in 1947. I was fortunate to attend a private screening of the movie during spring training, and it's definitely worth seeing.

There are some gripping scenes, including one in which a little boy is sitting next to his father while everyone, including his father, are hurling insults at Robinson. The boy looks around at everyone for a couple moments... then joins the verbal abuse. 

Chadwick Boseman, who plays Robinson, did a fantastic job of portraying an immensely-talented, strong-willed player. Harrison Ford was excellent. I didn't realize it was him until 20 minutes into the film. I had a chance to meet Andre Holland, who played reporter Wendell Smith, at a banquet in January. He was so excited as he talked about everything he learned while researching his subject and the project. You'll recognize a few of the other actors, too.

One thing I would have liked to have seen is how challenging Robinson's life was away from the park. But I enjoyed everything the movie had to offer and urge every baseball fan to check it out.

Now we move on to a movie that has yet to be released, but will be. 

Remember Pelotero? That documentary was released last year and opened our eyes to what goes on in Latin America and Major League Baseball teams scout, sign and develop talent there. It brought to light many things a teenager has to go through to begin his journey to the majors - and it wasn't pretty.

Twins megaprospect Miguel Sano was one of two players filmmakers followed in the movie. Those filmmakers are back again with a new project.

The Miguel Sano Story.

The Twins' shortstop-turned-third baseman will be tracked all the way to the Major Leagues. There are rumblings that Sano could get a shot at the majors as early as next season, if he continues to develop.

By develop I mean defensively more than offensively. The two games he played with the Twins in spring training he showed great bat speed and a polished swing. I was reminded of this last night when I received this twitter message from David Dorsey of the Fort Myers News Press.

Sano had a runner on third with one out. So he launched one to the dentist office behind Hammond.

I asked Dorsey how far did the ball travel, and he replied:

 Far. It looked like a pop fly that kept rising and rising until clearing by a mile the left center wall.

Wow. You try not to jump to conclusions here because he's only at Class A Fort Myers. But the Twins play spring games at Hammond Stadium, so it has major league dimensions and requires man muscles.

Anyway, makers of The Sano Story are raising money for the project through kickstarter. It looks like they've met their first goal so the project is definitely on. They are still raising capital for 2014, so if you are interested, check it out here.
 

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