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  • Writer's pictureTamar Chalker

There Was Always Sun...

by Tamar Chalker

July 21, 2023

***

The internet is a strange place, but I believe that for all problems it has presented and created, there are also some truly wonderful ways in which it can enhance our lives. Over a decade ago, back when Words With Friends had first become a big thing, I got a message from someone I was playing that seemed kind of random, but I replied. Well, she had meant to send this message to a friend of hers and accidentally sent it to me, but that kicked off a whole conversation that frankly continues today.

I probably never would have crossed paths with Elizabeth. She lives in San Francisco where she is a fiber artist, yet somehow we have found that we have so many strange common threads between us. In fact, she was doing some genealogy research that ended up intersecting with my own ancestry in Connecticut. The world truly is a large and tiny place all at once.

One of the things that Elizabeth and I bonded over was baseball and she told men about a documentary she had worked on when she was younger about the Negro Leagues. In fact, she sent me a poster for the film, which is called “There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace,” and it is one of my favorite things. Unfortunately, I couldn’t track down the documentary at the time, but she messaged me the other day to let me know it is now available. With the Yankees not playing Thursday (and frankly not playing well these days) this seemed like the perfect opportunity to dive into this documentary.

Narrated by the great James Earl Jones, the story is primarily told by the players themselves. The movie is from 1983, so there are plenty of interviews with actual Negro League players like Satchel Paige, Judy Johnson, Buck Leonard, and Cool Papa Bell, along with players who faced off against them, like Bob Feller. It also includes Hall of Fame, Effa Manley, a co-owner of the Newark Eagles. She gives some insight into the behind-the-scenes/front-office dealings as the Negro League players started to break into the Major Leagues.

In just under an hour, it packs a lot in. The footage used from the era really creates the feeling of that golden era of baseball. The love of the game shines through the players, who had to sacrifice and put up with a lot of abuse in order to play.


I learned a few things I hadn’t heard before and frankly, given the Yankees' performance at the moment, it was a nice way to give my love of the game a bit of a boost. If you are interested in baseball history, I would highly encourage you to check it out. It’s available here or on Amazon.



13 comments

13 Comments


Andy Singer
Andy Singer
Jul 21, 2023

Such a cool story, Tamar! I actually had the documentary in our college archives during my undergrad years, and it was pertinent to the research I was doing, so it was a win-win: work and play!


I had no idea it was publicly available now, so thanks so much for sharing! I loved it, and learned a ton as well.

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Andy Singer
Andy Singer
Jul 21, 2023
Replying to

Already bought it from the Amazon link this morning! :-)

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Mike Whiteman
Jul 21, 2023

Thanks for sharing this Tamar! The Negro Leagues are a real passion of mine.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
Jul 21, 2023

Thank you for a post that doesn't annoy or frustrate me these days!

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Tamar Chalker
Tamar Chalker
Jul 21, 2023
Replying to

Haha, I try to add some positivity in tough times.

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etbkarate
Jul 21, 2023

Sounds interesting, will check in out.


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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jul 21, 2023

I could listen to James Earl Jones read the telephone book! Makes sense that he narrated, as he was one of the stars of The Bingo Long All-Stars and Motor Kings, a fictional film from the mid-70s about a barnstorming, all-Black team in the 1930s. I will try to find some time on vacation to watch it, and thank you for the reference!


As for the internet, it can be wonderful. There are SO MANY people I never would have met or interacted with -- such as everyone on this site -- were it not to exist. Having knowledge of virtually anything literally at my finger-tips is an amazing gift to someone who read the encyclopedia for fun as…

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Jul 21, 2023
Replying to

Oh, no! That makes me really sad that he didn't like Bingo Long. I was 13 when it came out, and I saw it because I loved baseball. Although it was a comedy, I didn't think it parodied or make the Negro Leagues a target of derision. These were men making a living in a segregated world with laughter and sorrow both, and I really enjoyed the film. I haven't seen it in ages, and I'd like to again now with this perspective from Mr. Jones. I hope he's wrong!


Trivia: This was director John Badham's first feature film (so IMDb tells me). He is the much older brother of Mary Badham, who played Scout Finch in To Kill…

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