Coach Roscoe Bryant was inspired to start the Royals baseball team in his adopted town of Oakland when a young man died in his arms. Conceived as a way to help at-risk youth discover their own potential, Coach Roscoe has also made it a way for these kids to also discover a world, and a world of possibilities, outside their Ghost Town neighborhood. When I spoke with him, and with Eugene Corr, the man who made this documentary about Coach Roscoe, on October 10, 2015, I discovered a quiet, dedicated man who was more than just a sport coach, he was a profound philosopher.
The conversation covered the decline in the number of African-American players in professional baseball, why giving these kids baseball is an example of enlightened self-interest for us all, and how each man became so devoted to making the sport available to the kids who need it so much. We also talked about the bond of brotherhood that the Royals and their Cuban counterparts discovered when the Oakland team travelled to Cuba, and the influences each man had in their lives as kids that made them the men that they are today.
GHOST TOWN TO HAVANA is a film about hope, baseball, and belonging. The film blends reminiscences of Corr’s boyhood relationship to baseball and to his father, with the story of Bryant’s commitment to coaching kids’ baseball in the Ghost Town area of Oakland, Ca, also known as the Foster Hoover Historic District . Thanks to Corr, Bryant is introduced to Coach Nicholas Reyes, a baseball coach in Havana on a similar mission. In a beautiful study in comparisons and contrasts, Corr’s film ponders what boys need in order to grow into positive manhood, and points up with crystal clarity how America is failing its inner-city at-risk youth. It also demonstrates that some obstacles are more difficult to overcome than others, and not so easily repaired. Corr, son of a baseball coach himself, directed the documentary, and his previous work includes the writing and directing the narrative feature, DESERT BLOOM, and the documentary Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter’s Journey, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991. Coach Roscoe speaks first.