'Long Gone Summer' Documentary Revisits Controversial 1998 Home Run Chase

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Are joined by the director of long gone. Summer AJ SCHMUCK AJ. Congratulations loved watching that film. What does it feel like to have the film finally be seen by the world. I mean it's crazy. It's a been a long journey to get to this point, and it feels like a total miracle to have finished. With the pandemic and working separately with all my team so finally being able to get the film done and get it's ESPN. Feels like a huge accomplishment. Why did you decide to start the dock with the actual baseball's that mark mcgwire hit. Well is in part because we. When we met Todd McFarlane The Great Comic Book Artist Entrepreneur Who who bought all the balls or a bunch of balls including at number seventy. I just love the way he talked about the home run, and how it is something that really connects baseball fans to the game in a way that you don't get in any other sports so as soon as we like walked out of of interviewing him, I I turned to my producer, and said you know that's the beginning of the film. Is Him talking about what the home run in baseball means and how it connects fans, drinks have direct contact between Maguire's bat, and and the person who catches it. So that was that was great also has sort of the other. Bonus. Positive thing of reminding you that someone paid more than three million dollars. Baseball that's how big this was That's how much this took over the country that someone would would go to that extent. To own that ball. Having when watching that scene in Rhode. explained. HOW MICHAEL JORDAN HITS! A shot wins the championship. They go and bring him the basketball, and if if a quarterback breaks a record with the past, bring him the football, but with the home run. You literally hit into the stands, and you never see it again and it was sort of a way that the fan can take home a piece of the game in baseball. They can't other any other way. Way that happens with the home run, but then you did you hear him sort of articulate this, and then the question is asked how much you pay for it. It was just so much money that I wanted to know. How does this? How much are they paying people that bitter comic book illustrators, nowadays like what is the going rate for commentator Peter? How can this man afford this multimillion dollar baseball? Spun was very successful, but yeah I think. He spent basically every penny he owned and you know I I think in part. He did it because he he wanted to get into the business of making action figures for for sports. And and that happens I, mean he basically that was his way of getting everyone's attention in saying. Hey, I'm serious I. Care About Sports Let me make action figures, and and he did I think it was not only something that he wanted to do one thing that didn't make the film which I I tried to find a way to put it in, but he talked about how. His brothers are all baseball fans, one of the key excitement for him in getting the balls with just to be able to say I've got the baseball. As like well. You got three million dollars for that God. Bless Ya. I know that's right. The kid sweet swinging lefty King Griffey Junior, one of my favorite players growing up as Wa. Carry a bet to this day. was more of a factor. With Sosa mcgwire that people actually a realize. Can you acknowledge how his performance affected them? Certainly I mean one of the crazy things I think about that. Season was that people really went into it from spring training, thinking that either Maguire or junior were gonNA. Make this record. Both of them at hit and high fifties the year before this was an expansion year. Everyone just thought like this is GonNa happen went into the season, thinking that Griffey was was in it. You know right I think if you even remember the Griffey was in it. You forget that he was in it until late August when he had kind of a long slump I think he only hit one one home run and like twenty games and may still hits. Hyphen! which is a tremendous season that gets overlooked by what happened with mcgwire and Sosa, but certainly yeah I mean congruency. Junior had an amazing year that year and. It was in a in addition to to all the stuff. We remember of Sosa and mcgwire. He was. He was hitting the ball longer. In Maguire was sort of famously one of the bash brothers, and he had a great career while he was in Oakland with the athletes and Sammy Sosa wasn't as celebrated as a baseball player, and he said something in the film that really hit accord me, said quote ahead had to continue hitting. Because if not, they're not going to mention me. Why did you include that emphasized that and what that means you from Sami? I thought it was great. It Sammy acknowledged that he wanted to the respect. He thought he deserved, and he does that a few times I think in the film and I mean that's sort of a lighthearted way of like saying like. I turned on sports center at night and if I don't hit a home run like they're not gonNA mentioned. He wanted to be mentioned. He wanted to be acknowledged and I think that one of the things I hope that the film does Sami. Wasn't that well known outside of Chicago before ninety eight, but. That's in part because the comes weren't very good, but the Sammy was was a great player for the cubs. A thirty thirty guy I thirty thirty guy ever in cubs history. He was a top home run hitter in the National League for years. I was one year where he was on track to get close to the record. But was injured in in August so You know was a goal to sort of illuminate. The fact that Sami wasn't just somebody who like. Jumped out of nowhere in June of Nineteen Ninety eight that he meant something in Chicago before that. Implant in Chicago, the weather can be a factor. Do you believe it play as much of a factor as Sammy Sosa states. I mean all I can tell you that. We were there in May of last year to shoot the Saint Louis Chicago series in their. Earliest! May and it's snowed one morning. And I was just like. I grew up in southern Illinois outside the St, Louis and I love Chicago. Chicago is great, but I was just like hell though. Away being at the game it was cold. It was rainy and it was just like damn out. This is football. Weather's that I don't know but yeah. No. I definitely know He. He I believe in when he says he's. He was a hitter that did better when it got warm. Not that good of a hitter in the cold. Certainly, see see that that would be the case. Which I think is also in the film. You'll see you know one of the things that makes a Kerry Wood's twenty strikeout game. All the more impressive is that he's. He's doing it on one of those days, and the rain is coming down east going through like You know thirteen fourteen fifteen strikeouts that day, so? Yeah! It's whether in and regularly I think is probably no joke. With all of what's happening in our society in the world, not just in our country today we kind of have to look at things in stories in history, and currently through the filter of race. And how do you think race played a role in this particular story of mcgwire and Sosa and that summer? I think that people wanted to feel good about the fact that they liked this battle between these two guys who were from different cultures different countries. And different races. That probably made people want pat themselves on the back for feelings so good about it I think in part there still memories of what had happened to Hank Aaron and sort of the ugliness when he was. Setting the all time home run record. So people felt like. Wow, look at how far we've come to celebrate and get excited about the fact that this could be. A champion of homerun record that was held by either of these two guys. There's a somewhat famous. Cartoon! Where the two of them are depicted with their bats wall has been broken in the wall, says racist. You know like that. The two of them had finally solved this problem. They beaten it. And I think. It's just a you know. It's one of those times when. People have wanted to. Congratulate themselves for reaching a certain. Threshold and clearly all of those congratulations were way premature. And we're still. We're still fighting for it. I hope that the people. Look at this though as a story of these two champions, and can get some excitement out of the fact that they did come from different backgrounds, and they have very different stores,

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