Local PBS TV station WSRE is revealing part one of its latest documentary, “Baseball in Pensacola,” at 8 p.m. today, Thursday, Nov. 8.
The two-and-a-half-hour documentary chronicles the rich history of America's favorite sport as it unfolded in America's first city. Viewers will travel back in time to meet teams from the late 1800s all the way to the present day including interviews with many local legends such as Don Sutton, Buck Showalter, Dennis Lewallyn, Jay Bell, Greg Litton, Travis Fryman and many more baseball greats. An encore broadcast of part one airs Monday, November 12 at 8 p.m. Part two will air on Friday, November 23 along with a repeat of part one beginning at 8 p.m. More information is available at wsre.org/baseball.
To commemorate the excitement of Pensacola’s new Double-A baseball team, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, WSRE set out to produce a documentary covering the complete history of baseball in Pensacola. Working closely with Emmy® nominated executive producer Jill Hubbs on this project was local baseball historian and author Scott Brown, and the Pensacola Historical Society which helped locate many of the archival photographs and documents used throughout the documentary. With work on the project beginning nearly two years ago, research and interviews revealed that as Pensacola began to grow in prosperity with tourism and industry, the city established itself as a proving ground for budding players and a challenging training arena for veterans of America’s most beloved game. In the heyday of baseball in Pensacola, city teams representing area businesses were all the rage. When Major League legends such as Babe Ruth traveled to Pensacola, hundreds of fans turned out to watch exhibition games. Pensacola fielded its own professionally organized teams, which offered not only quality entertainment for thousands of fans, but also a stepping stone into the world of the Big Leagues.
“Pensacola has been the birthplace of many of the greatest legends of baseball, and also the launching pad for many careers that have gone on to shape the face of the national game,” said Scott Brown. “Players such as Bo Belinski, Steve Barber…Coaches like Fred Waters, Bill Bond and Bill McGhee. And names such as Tom Cheek and Wally Dashiell have all contributed to making Pensacola a standard in the world of baseball.”
From historic Legion Field, to the bay side vista views of Admiral Mason Park, to the new construction of Maritime Park, Pensacola has been the backdrop for some of baseball’s most legendary figures. Billy Sunday, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Branch Rickey, Ted Williams, Cal Ripkin Sr., Don Sutton, and Travis Fryman are just but a few who have left their mark upon the base paths of the Emerald Coast. Through the course of Pensacola’s baseball history and the multiple ballparks dotting the shorelines of the city, two factors have consistently stood the test of time — the sense of community and the love of the sport. Pensacola has been the site for Major League Spring Training, Semi-Pro Negro League franchises, and a foundation for both players and fans to come together under the hopes and dreams made possible through the history and experience of BASEBALL IN PENSACOLA.
Support for “Baseball in Pensacola” comes from the following community-minded organizations and individuals: Gulf Power, Pensacola News Journal, YP, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Beggs & Lane, Child Neurology Center, Guernsey & Associates, Frances Dorchester Harrell, Raymond James – Morgan Keegan, and Saltmarsh, Cleaveland and Gund.