Sunday, January 18, 2015

Award-winning Tiger Stadium documentary 'Stealing Home' on sale now

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'Stealing Home' now available on DVD 

DETROIT —  Stealing Home, the Freep Film Festival award-winning documentary about the volunteers who lovingly maintain the baseball field at the site of old Tiger Stadium, is coming to a DVD player near you. 

Stealing Home examines the grass-roots efforts of a dedicated group of local volunteers who’ve been maintaining the baseball field at the site of old Tiger Stadium since its demolition in 2009. It’s a uniquely Detroit story about a group of people who have lovingly restored a garbage-strewn, weed-choked vacant lot against the City's wishes. 

But it's not just any lot. It’s the site where Detroit’s historic Tiger Stadium once stood. The documentary won the Best of the Fest award at the inaugural Freep Film Festival in March of 2014, as well as the award for best documentary feature at the Detroit Dreaming Film Festival. It was also selected for participation in the Capital City Film Festival in Lansing and the annual National Baseball Hall of Fame film festival in Cooperstown, New York. 

In the wake of the ballpark’s demolition, the resulting blight spawned an unexpected and heartwarming tale ... despite the constant threats from the police, a group of amateur groundskeepers decided to risk arrest and attempt to preserve the field. In honor of the ballpark’s original name, they call themselves the Navin Field Grounds Crew.

“It’s a great story in a city that needs to hear great stories,” says director/producer Jason Roche, a communication studies professor at the University of Detroit Mercy and a native of upstate New York. “With all the negative headlines, with all the pundits using Detroit as the butt of their jokes, this was something that really moved me. I want this story to show the world that the people who live here haven’t given up on Detroit, that this city is worth fighting for.”

“That spot is where Detroit dies, or where it’s reborn,” says David Fleming, senior writer at ESPN the Magazine. “And if it’s reborn, it’s because of the efforts of people like the people who have saved that field.”

Professor Roche has been following the grounds crew since Opening Day of 2011. In that time, they’ve transformed the field from just another abandoned Detroit eyesore to a bona fide tourist attraction. Thousands of fans from Michigan and around the world have come to “The Corner” to wish them well, to run the bases, and to share their memories. Many visitors come to sprinkle the ashes of their deceased loved ones where Al Kaline and Willie Horton roamed the outfield, where Hank Greenberg and Cecil Fielder slammed home runs, and where the greatest names in baseball once played our national pastime. 

In recent months, several couples have even exchanged wedding vows on the field.

Featuring a captivating blend of candid interviews and archival footage, including some never-before-seen footage from the 1930s and 1940s, Stealing Home explores the rich history of Tiger Stadium and takes a critical look at why these passionate people are so devoted to maintaining the site, what makes preserving memory so important, and whether this abandoned baseball field can truly be considered sacred ground.

On opening day in 1912, Ty Cobb scored the Tigers’ first ever-run at Navin Field by stealing home against the Cleveland Indians. More than 100 years later, director Jason Roche sets out to determine whether these amateur groundskeepers can continue to restore their field of dreams. Or whether they'll get caught stealing home.

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