University of Pittsburgh
July 18, 2006

Emmy Award-Winning Pitt Sports Historian's Documentary Film to Be Featured at New York International Latino Film Festival July 27

The Republic of Baseball: The Dominican Giants of the American Game, a feature- length film cowritten and coproduced by Rob Ruck and Daniel Manatt, will be screened at film festival
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The Dominican Republic sends more "Peloteros" to major league baseball than any other Latin nation-comprising 10 percent of all players in the major leagues. The Republic of Baseball: The Dominican Giants of the American Game, cowritten and coproduced by Rob Ruck, University of Pittsburgh faculty member and sports historian, and Daniel Manatt, son of Charles Manatt, former U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, will be featured at the New York International Latino Film Festival at 8 p.m. July 27 in Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th St., New York.

A Latino Public Broadcasting presentation, the event is presented by Chivas Regal and the Dominican American Professional Alliance. Invited guests include Omar Minaya, the Dominican American general manager of the New York Mets; Dominican President Leonel Fernandez; and members of the George Washington High School baseball team, who this year won the New York City baseball championship.

The Republic of Baseball is the story of that first extraordinary generation of players from the Dominican Republic who overcame poverty, the brutalities of the Trujillo dictatorship, the upheaval resulting from the U.S. invasion of 1965, and racism in America.

The film is based on Ruck's award-winning book, The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic (Mecklermedia, 1991; Carroll & Graf, 1993; and University of Nebraska Press, 1999), and the autobiographies of Felipe Alou and Baseball Hall-of-Fame member Juan Marichal-Felipe Alou: My Life and Baseball (Word Books, 1967) and A Pitcher's Story (Doubleday, 1967)-two of the first major league players from the Dominican Republic.

As well as Alou and Marichal, Republic of Baseball tells the stories of Manny Mota and Ozzie Virgil Sr., Dominicans who were among the first to enter the major leagues. Virgil debuted with the New York Giants 50 years ago and was the first Dominican to play in the major leagues. In the documentary, such baseball greats as Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriquez, Alfonso Soriano, and hall-of-fame members Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, and Willie Mays reflect on the careers of the baseball "pioneers."

Republic of Baseball was produced by Sports for Development Foundation and Manatt Media LLC. In addition to Pitt's Ruck and Manatt, the film's producers are Jose Mota, broadcaster for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and son of Manny Mota, and Christia Alou, daughter of Felipe Alou.

Latino Public Broadcasting will release a 53-minute version of the film to PBS stations in September to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Virgil's debut with the New York Giants on Sept. 23, 1956.

Ruck received the MacMillan-Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Award in 1991 for The Tropic of Baseball. He also is the author of Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburgh (University of Illinois Press, 1993). He was project director, producer, and writer of Kings on the Hill: Baseball's Forgotten Men, a documentary about the Negro Leagues and the role of sports in the Black community, for which he received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Cultural Programming in 1994.

In addition to his work on Republic of Baseball, Ruck is cowriting a biography of the late Art Rooney, Pittsburgh Steelers owner, and a history of Pittsburgh with Pitt history professor Edward Muller. He also served as guest historian for sports exhibitions at the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center.