Thursday, February 01, 2007

Season of the Samurai

In 2005 I had a chance to see several Golden Baseball League games. If you don't already know, the GBL is an upstart independent minor league based in the West Coast. There are teams in Long Beach, Fullerton, Chico, San Diego and Yuma- just to name a few. Former major leaguers included Rickey Henderson, Darrell Evans, Terry Kennedy and Garry Templeton. 2005 was its inaugural season.

Anyway, the first game I saw was between the Long Beach Armada vs. the Samurai Bears’. Now, my first thought was, "who are the Samurai Bears?" I would soon find out that they where a traveling group of all Japanese Baseball players. How cool is that? Furthermore, they were coached by former major leaguer Warren Cromartie.

So, this morning I got an email from the GBL highlighting a documentary that was filmed about the Samurai Bears. They played in 90 games over a 96 day period and went through the trials and tribulations you would expect a team to go through during a season that busy.

From the email:
The film, starring Samurai Bears’ team manager and ex-major leaguer Warren Cromartie, chronicles the on and off field exploits of the Samurai Bears as they compete in the 2005 Golden Baseball League season as the first ever all-Japanese team to participate as a regular member of a U.S. professional sports league. The Samurai Bears competed as a traveling team playing 90 games on the road in 96 days across California and Arizona. Cromartie, a legend in his playing days for Japan’s Yomiuri Giants, now is in a reversed role as he skippers 25 Japanese players competing in a professional baseball league in a foreign land.

Narrated by Cromartie and GBL President Amit Patel, the film chronicles early difficulties by the team on the field, language and cultural miscommunications, a prima donna slugger, and a translator struggling with the pressure – all set against a classic minor league baseball backdrop of small towns, long bus rides, and hero-worshipping groupies. The Samurai Bears eventually find a groove on the field and end up chasing the record for the most single-season wins by a minor league traveling team. Along the way, the team also learns about America, masters new and colorful baseball vernacular in several languages, and shows a depth of dedication, passion and joy for the game that makes it very obvious that this is not just America’s national pastime.
The film will have its premier this weekend during the Santa Barbara International Film Festival on Saturday, February 3rd at 7:30PM.

If you have a chance go and check it out- and let me know how it is. I won't have a opportunity to go out there so I'll probably have to wait for NetFlix. Santa Barbara is a long drive for me.

SB Film Festival Link:

GBL Link:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip. I live in Santa Barbara and went to see the film. It was pretty good, and especially all scenes (that's just about every one) containing the Samurai Bears' manager, Warren Cromartie, who was also there for Q & A at the end.


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