While Jackie Robinson, rightfully, gets remembered for breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball, the pioneers that followed are just as important to the diversification of America’s Pastime. A generation of African-American and Afro-Latino players followed Robinson into the majors, and their contributions and bravery in the face of racism perpetrated by a mostly-white fanbase unready for change helped pave the way for a more open sport.
In new documentary A Long Way From Home: The Untold Story of Baseball’s Desegregation, director Gaspar González–who has directed documentaries for the BBC, PBS, and ESPN–takes a look at these players that kicked open the door that Robinson had pushed ajar. Interviewing players like former Cincinnati Reds third baseman Tony Pérez, former Kansas City Athletics pitcher Orlando Peña, and former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman and 1967 National League MVP Orlando Cepeda, González helps shatter the myth that baseball was an inviting place once Robinson debuted on the Dodgers in 1947.
In the short teaser trailer released this week, A Long Way From Home looks to combine archival footage with player interviews that detail what playing in the racially-fraught post-desegregation era was like. From locker room tension to safety concerns amidst Ku Klux Klan threats, to simple rejections when trying to eat with their white teammates, these players were targeted by a racist apparatus that was not willing to accept their right to play baseball at the professional level.
Hearteningly, González also gives a voice to Afro-Latino players, whose struggle to join MLB has generally fallen under the radar; Cepeda, Peña, and Pérez all get time to discuss the specific struggles of being both black and Latino in a country that has historically oppressed and dismissed both.
A Long Way From Home will have a free screening in Miami on June 27, and will premiere on TV One at some point in 2017. Watch the trailer below.