I got to know Arnold Hano a bit from interviewing him for my first feature-length documentary, Not Exactly Cooperstown. Then I read his classic baseball book, A Day in the Bleachers. I read up on him on the web. He was like a modern-day Forrest Gump, living through a number of incredible experiences in American history and popular culture. In an interview with blogger Alex Belth, he said he’d been run over by a truck during Army training for WWII. He suffered two crushed vertabrae, yet still recovered in went into action with his unit. Are you kidding me?
And thus, the journey began. It’s an ambitious project, one that will take me back to Arnold’s home town of New York city, interviewing old friends and giants of the golden age of publishing: Al Silverman and Ray Robinson. It will include a trip to Phoenix for spring training and an interview with baseball great Felipe Alou. I just interviewed Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, who recalled Arnold with great admiration and respect, as he was one of the few journalists to give Latino players their due in the late 1950s and 1960s, when they faced heavy discrimination and brushes with Jim Crow.
It is now February, 2015. Much of the road has been paved, and with each new interview I learn something new about this remarkable man. This is the reason I love making documentaries: the script is never written until you’re nearly done, and it is a voyage of discovery. The life experiences while making these projects are incredibly satisfying, not to mention a lot of fun. It’s my passion and my life.