SC State University's I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium Presents "Bleacher Boys"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium (The Stanback) on the campus of SC State University presents “Bleacher Boys”as part of the Southern Arts Federations Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. The film will be shown on Thursday, April  8, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. A discussion and reception with producer Karen Hunter will follow the film. This is a free event.

 “Bleacher Boys”  is the story of six men who shared a common dream as boys, the dream of growing up and playing major league baseball. Six men, each of whose dream was dashed at an early age due to blindness, as if the stadium lights suddenly went dark. Childhood had become a lonely existence until they heard the voices of the play-by-play men on their radios, storytellers who on those warm summer nights brought the boys flashes of light. Through those voices, the boys each found friends who would tell exciting stories and magical tales, painting pictures and creating fields of kaleidoscopic visions. Strong relationships were formed as they cradled their radios against their ears to hear the calls of America’s favorite pastime – baseball.

Their individual stories unfold like innings of a baseball game, with them sitting in the bleachers watching the action. Each inning becomes a chapter from their lives. They relate the hardships of overcoming the painful realities of never seeing again, and their struggles to create new dreams. All of them are courageous. All are endearing. All are masterful storytellers whose perseverance we all can admire. These six men represent the many others who have overcome adversity. Their stories are inspirational, and their lives serve as motivation for those living with adversity and insurmountable challenges.

The following are the bleacher boys:

Ed Lucas, now a reporter for the New York Yankees. Lucas lost his sight in 1959 after being inspired by Bobby Thompson’s famous home run heard around the world.  He and his friends were so excited, they took to the streets to play a pickup game of baseball. A line-drive hit Lucas between the eyes rendering him blind. His dream of playing professional baseball shattered, his steadfast love for the game remains.

Pat Cannon lost his sight gradually, but he too continued the struggle to keep his baseball dream alive.

Neal Freeling, born without sight, fell in love with baseball announcer Mel Allen’s voice as his words brought the game to life. Radio voices such as these became Freeling’s friends since the boys in his neighborhood shunned him. The game of baseball became his true pastime.

Craig Lynch, who has never seen a baseball field in his life, now sits in the bleachers at Wrigley Field reporting on Chicago Cubs games he cannot see.

Paul Parravano, known as the MIT King, has been honored for his remarkable contributions to this prestigious university. His love of baseball motivated him to achieve Massachusetts Institute of Technology greatness.

Enrique “Henry” Oliu, a man rendered blind since early childhood, has overcome the odds and made his major league baseball dream come true. Calling upon his love for sports and an encyclopedic memory for facts and figures, Oliu hears the crack of the bat and knows if it’s a single, double or homerun.  He listens for the ball singing into the catcher’s mitt and knows if it’s a curveball, fastball or change-up. Oliu is the color analyst for the Tampa Rays on WMGG Mega Classica 820 radio, the strongest Hispanic station in Florida’s Tampa Bay Market.

The remainder of the team is represented by some of the invisible friends, those legendary voices that provided comfort to the boys over the airwaves, including Ernie Harwell, Pat Hughes, Dave Niehaus, Joe Angel and Joe Castiglione. 

Producer Karen Hunter is the founder of Rose Mountain Productions and the producer/cinematographer for three award-winning documentaries. After completing a year of intensive class work, she graduated in 2005 with a professional certificate in digital filmmaking. Hunter launched her new career as an independent filmmaker with her final student project, “The Poetry of Steeples: Change Ringing in Boston,” a documentary about the history of the first English style bells that hung in the tower of the Old North Church and were rung by Paul Revere. By the beginning of 2009, Hunter had completed three award-winning feature-length documentaries as a producer – “Play-by-play Men and The Art of the Perfect Call,” “Henry O!” and “Bleacher Boys.” Hunter's documentaries have won several awards including the 29th Annual Breckenridge Festival of Film Best Latin Documentary, the Connecticut Film Festival Award for Best Sports Documentary, the Beverly Hills Film Festival Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary, The Accolade Award of Excellence for Feature Documentary, and the New England Film and Video Festival Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Prior to becoming a filmmaker, Hunter co-owned and operated a successful restaurant for ten years in Westborough, Massachusetts. Hunter is a graduate of Quinsigimond Community College located in Worcester, Mass. with an Associate Degree in Science for applied arts/graphic arts,  and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell located in Lowelle, Mass.  with a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design.

For additional information about the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium, contact Ellen Zisholtz, director, at (803)536-7174. You may also contact Ingrid Owens, program manager, at (803)536-8329.