The League, a new documentary directed by Sam Pollard, celebrates the dynamic journey of Negro League baseball’s triumphs and challenges through the first half of the twentieth century. The story is told through previously unearthed archival footage and never-before-seen interviews with legendary players like Satchel Paige and Buck O’Neil – whose early careers paved the way for the Jackie Robinson era – as well as celebrated Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Hank Aaron who started out in the Negro Leagues.
From 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 admitted 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.
The film has been praised by critics for its “rousing” storytelling, “essential” history, and “delightful” presentation. The New York Times called it a “poetic collage,” while USA Today said it was a “captivating chronicle” of the Negro Leagues. The Atlantic called the film a “powerful case” for the importance of the Negro leagues, and IndieWire called it a “rich, engrossing, and necessary tribute.” Paste Magazine said that The League is “endlessly, almost effortlessly engaging” and that Pollard “didn’t make this movie just for folks with heads for sports stats. He made it for everybody.”
The League is a must-see for fans of baseball, history, and social justice. It is a film that will entertain, educate, and inspire.
Here are some additional thoughts on the film:
The film does a great job of capturing the excitement and passion of Negro League baseball. The archival footage is incredible, and the interviews with the players are both informative and inspiring.
The film also does a good job of exploring the challenges that Black baseball players faced, both on and off the field. The racism and segregation that they experienced was real and lasting, and it is important to remember that.
However, the film also celebrates the resilience and determination of the players. They refused to be denied, and they ultimately helped to pave the way for integration in baseball and other sports.
The League is a powerful and important film that everyone should see. It is a story of triumph over adversity, and it is a reminder that anything is possible if you have the courage to dream.
Where to watch:
The League is currently playing in select theaters. It will be available to stream on Hulu starting July 14, 2023.