First Look: Baseball Punx Documentary

When you think Baseball, the unlikely next thought for most is Punk music. However, it was exactly that – Baseball and Punk music – that inspired Shibby Pictures’ filmmaker, Jak Kerley, to create the short documentary, Baseball Punx. ESPN Music was given a first look at the documentary along with a first listen to the accompanying compilation of baseball-inspired punk songs. Needless to say, we get it now…

For Kerley, what started as a five minute fluff piece about baseball references in punk music, snowballed into what he described as a “10 minute, often political, mostly serious discussion about baseball, punk rock, and the American identity.”

When choosing who to interview, Kerley had two main criteria: they had to be a diehard baseball fan and they had to be in a punk band that operates with DIY eithics. What are DIY ethics you ask? Kerley explained, “By ‘DIY ethics’ I mean, bands that reject the mainstream path of being a band, and focus their energy on recording their own music, promoting their own shows, booking their own tours, and operate with leftist political ideologies in mind. They were people who I knew looked at baseball in an interesting and romantic way that would be able to talk about it on camera, and relate any similarities it had to punk.”

The line-up of talent interviewed in this unique documentary include Scott Radinsky (Los Angeles Angels), Steve Sladowski (PUP), Rob Taxpayer (The Taxpayers), and John DeDomenici (Bomb The Music Industry/Jeff Rosenstock). All give their own unique perspective on the paralleling worlds of Baseball and Punk Music.

John DeDomenici is the first person we hear from in the documentary. After first pointing out that one of the reasons people start creating punk music is to get away from the jocks, DeDomenici goes into detail of the similarities in how baseball and punk music both tend to be on the forefront when it comes to publicly addressing civil injustices in society. He explained to us that “I think it boils down to both sides willingness to accept (for the most part) the minority as equals whether it be sexual, racial, social, what have you. Baseball obviously brought in the first African American players and continues to lead the rest of sports with the most players from under-developed countries. Punk music also (for the most part), is pretty accepting of the minority of non-white men to have a voice...”

Scott Radinsky seemingly lives a double life. By day, he is known by most as the LA Angels bullpen coach who had an 11 year career in the MLB as a relief pitcher, but by night he is the lead singer of punk rock band Pulley. Scott’s edge is that he has been able to provide a rare and genuine perspective to his coaching style. Scott went on to tell us, “Anyone who understands the DIY ethics and the passion that goes along with the music knows that “core is poor” so you better well love what you do, willing to put in the time to be the best you can be for nothing more than the satisfaction of watching a player compete & succeed is the ultimate high; to create an environment where all different people and cultures can come together and be brothers for 6 grueling months of highs and lows and still be there to pick each other up when needed. The understanding & feel of when to approach someone is key. That’s what I take pride in, and being able to understand from a players’ perspective, someone who’s been in their shoes & rode the same ups and downs, as well as, the perspective from someone who’s been exposed to sleeping on floors of squats in Eastern Europe. Who else in the league can give that?”

It’s Rob Taxpayer, though, who really knocked the whole ‘punk music/baseball concept’ out of the park for us. He explained, “The historical trajectory of punk has been that of an increasingly larger umbrella, and the same seems to be true for baseball. From the outset, punk was initially only associated with outrage, rebellion, loud/dissonant music, but quickly grew in terms of inclusivity and sound. In 2018, punk has associations with nearly every type of instrumentation - classical strings, jazz saxophone, marching brass, synthesizers - and can be found in nearly every culture across the planet. And although baseball’s beginnings were founded in tandem with the racial segregation of America at large, it has also grown in terms of inclusivity. There is still room for both to grow.”

While there’s no set plan to create other sports/music documentaries, Kerley did point out the similarities between punk music and the NFL. “For one you have Colin Kaepernick in the NFL who did tremendous work with his protests against racial injustice. He created a nationwide discussion on the subject by a non-violent and simple direct action. Not to mention that during his free agency, he's continued to do an amazing amount of work in his community. Chris Long from the Eagles is definitely another person I'd put on that level. I can think of a lot of NFL players because the NFL is so big right now in this country, and the players have such a large platform, it's very encouraging to see a lot of players using that platform to push for positive social change.”

Be sure to watch full documentary out tomorrow… (OR for those impatient folk like us, click here!)

For more on Baseball Punx, visit BaseballPunx.com.