Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Rainbows: Part Two

Speaking of rainbows, I am also reminded of the mute character named Rainbow on The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings! barnstorming Negro baseball team, from the Billy Dee Williams/James Earl Jones/Richard Pryor movie of the same name.
Filmed in Macon in the mid-1970’s, I always considered Bingo Long to be underrated in the pantheon of baseball movies, just a notch below Field of Dreams, Eight Men Out, The Natural, Bull Durham, and For the Love of the Game.  

Each team member wore a different word from the long team name on their jersey. Rainbow wore the exclamation point at the end. Put together, a rainbow arched across all the jerseys.
Star pitcher Bingo (Williams, playing a Satchel Paige role) of course wore the “Bingo” jersey. Jones played a slugging catcher in the mold of Josh Gibson. Pryor played a black man posing as an Indian in the hopes of making the major leagues. Interesting that both Williams and Jones later starred in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Much of the movie was filmed at historic Luther Williams Park, former home of Pete Rose’s Macon Peaches in the early 1960’s, as well as Chipper Jones’ Macon Braves thirty years later. This picture shows the third base grandstand with the lights of Central City Park in the background, where I played softball. I was fortunate enough to have practiced at Luther Williams.

My friends in the Central High Sugar Bear Band played the national anthem in the movie, at a scene shot at the Payne City pony league field where I once played. I always thought the shot of the twirler dropping her baton at the end had been obviously staged, though it led to a poor book review, in The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 2007-2008, by (2009):

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