50 SUMMERS REVIEW
Starring: The Omaha Storm Chasers
Directed By: Dan Napoli
Runtime: 1 hour 38 minutes
The Omaha Storm Chasers, formerly The Omaha Royals, formerly the Omaha Golden Spikes have been affiliated with the Kansas City Royals for over 50 years now, the longest MLB-AAA partnership going at this point.Teams switch affiliations, franchises relocate.It’s a sad state of affairs, but this one partnership has endured.And it is the focus of a documentary from a UNK grad, Dan Napoli.
Narrated by comedian, former Marine, and FOX NFL Sunday contributer Rob Riggle, a KC native, 50 Summers goes through the history of Minor League Baseball, The Omaha AAA Franchise, Rosenblatt Stadium, and the two stadiums that followed in its gigantic shadow.
Talking heads include Omaha Storm Chasers GM, Martie Cordaro, Rosenblatt groundskeeper Jesse Cuevas, Hall of Famer George Brett, and Alex Gordon.The doc uses the 50th season Opening Day as a backdrop for the history of the franchise.
It covers every major ownership change, every team name change, the championships, the losing seasons, the empty seats at Rosenblatt, the decision to move out to Werner Park, and what goes in to making a profitable minor league baseball franchise, cause it isn’t as easy as rolling a team out there and hoping that puts butts in the seats.
50 Summers plays out like a love letter to baseball.Because in a lot of ways, you have to love baseball to watch minor league baseball.It’s not full of big stars.There might be one up and coming huge prospect, there might an old timer or two trying to get back to the big leagues.Even though roughly 70% of AAA players end up making the bigs, when their in AAA you often don’t know their names or faces.
The documentary was entertaining, funny, and at times insightful.Being 33 years old, I never really knew a lot about “the old days” and it was fun to learn about that.I’m a HUGE Jackie Robinson fan, and it was neat to see Pacific Coast League President, and grandson of Branch Rickey, Branch Barrett Rickey in the movie.
Not to self-agrandize, but I did cover a lot of those teams that went on to win two AAA national championships in three title game appearances. I’ve been in the clubhouse when the champagne was sprayed after a PCL title.I was full of pride seeing those guys I talked to day in and day out up on the big screen.
50 Summers is Americana at its finest.Baseball is that shared experience, that sense of community.Warm weather.Great food.What did James Earl Jones say in Field of Dreams?
The one constant through the years has been baseball.America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers.It’s been erased like a blackboard.It’s been rebuilt and erased again.But baseball is marked the time.This field. This game.Is a part of our past.It reminds of all that was once good. And it could be again.
On a scale of 'See It/Stream It/Skip It', I'm voting See It. Especially if you've ever watched a baseball game in Omaha.
If you liked Field of Dreams, Moneyball, or The Sandlot you might like 50 Summers
3.5 out of 5 stars