I remember when Tower Records first opened in New York. Must have been the early-to-mid eighties. Their first store was on Broadway near NYU. Eventually, they opened a second store just north of Lincoln Center on the Upper West Side. I remember buying 45s there when I was in middle school. (Woody Allen bumps into Diane Wiest in uptown store near the end of “Hannah and Her Sisters.”) Well, Tower went bankrupt a few months ago and all merchandise was 60% when I passed by store last Friday. There wasn’t much left–a clerk told me they’ve been clearing house for two months already–but that didn’t stop me from digging around anyhow.
One of the things I found and figured I’d take a chance on is a documentary about minor league baseball called “A Player To Be Named Later.” I had never heard of it. The movie follows the 2001 Indianapolis Indians, the Brewers’ triple A team. Marco Scutaro is the most famous player featured in this crisp, well-made, and unsentimental look at life in the minor leagues. It’s kind of like the baseball version of “Hoop Dreams.” It may not actually reveal anything that you might not already know about how difficult it is to make the majors, but it presents the information in a compelling, understated manner. There are some terrific interviews, particularly with the ballplayers’ wives. The scene where manager Wendell Kim tells Scutaro that he is not getting called up to the big leagues is wrenching. The moment is so awkward and Kim is so inarticulate, yet it is not unusual.
If you run across it, it’s certainly worth taking a look at. I was pleasantly surprised. I’m always moaning about how few good baseball movies there are; even though this is a documentary, this would make my list of baseball movies that won’t make you nauteous.