The Clowns' Story

 

 BARNSTORMING AND THE FORGOTTEN SEASON OF BASEBALL

In 1947, the face of baseball was changed forever. Negro League star Jackie Robinson crossed the color-line when he entered the field as the first black player admitted into the Major leagues.  But that singular event did not belong only to Jackie, but to the countless, often nameless others of the Negro Leagues who endured for decades the hardship, heartbreak and humiliation of a segregated game. . . and society.

Lost Innings looks at one of the leading barnstorming teams of the Negro Leagues—The Indianapolis Clowns—the most-traveled, entertainment touring troupe of its time, and the impact they had on furthering our national social situation, as well as our favorite pastime.  

The documentary travels from the team’s inception in the 1920s up through their final fielding in the 1970s, offering a team-bus perspective with special focus on the ‘diamond-decades’ between 1947 and 1967—from Robinson’s debut to the wake of Civil Rights legislation.  Against the backdrop of our country’s cultural conflict, The Clowns were a testament to perseverance and passion--to keep going, to keep playing, to keep finding the purpose in the moment—to be all you can even when the odds are against you, and succeed through doing what you do best.  

Play ball.

The Clowns were a unique crew, known as much for their genius and entertainment as for their impressive roster, which included legends Hank Aaron, Satchel Paige, Reece “Goose” Tatum, among many others.  True founders of the field, they were the first professional baseball team to hire a female player—Toni Stone—followed by Mamie “Peanuts” Johnson and Connie Morgan.  As pioneers of the popular ‘shadowball’ and other incredible athletic antics, they also provided the template for today’s Harlem Globetrotters—a living legacy of talent and heart.

Lost Innings will not only examine the Clowns and their role in the history of baseball, but is also a journey inside the soul of America.  For one barnstorming band of outcasts, it was a season of cultural disappointment and sheer sporting joy; it was also a season of accomplishment.  While we can’t go back and rewrite ourselves as a nation, we can right ourselves through acknowledging those gifts, those efforts, those amazingly raw days of our country—and the sacrifice that went into all our play.