Boys of Summer: The first film - where and how it all began.
It began as a dream. As I was nearing graduation from college, my Dad wanted to get closer to his son who was now becoming an adult. He knew I was a big baseball fan and proposed we go to all 30 MLB parks together.
We started slowly - four the first year, three the next. Then life got busy. We swore we’d get back to it. In 2001 Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Time, once so liquid and abundant, was now suddenly fleeting.
In 2004, after rewatching Field of Dreams for the umpteenth time and crying my eyes out right on cue, I called my dad and told him we had to complete our dream. We set out just four months later on a two month, 20,000 mile road trip to see a game at each of the 30 MLB parks.
Along the way we met people with Parkinson’s. Dad was early onset with few symptoms at the time. This gave us both more understanding of what might lie ahead and determination for what we were doing in the moment.
The rally cry from those in the know with PD was that there would be a cure within 10 years. We were hopeful. We went to all 30 parks. We met amazing people. We really thought we had done our part.
But then, as a wise man from Liverpool once said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans…”
From a cure to quality of life
After finishing the first film, I thought I was done with it. But no matter what else I worked on, it seemed people would always ask me, "How's your dad?" Rather than tell them, I decided to show them.
In 2014, it was a different journey. Time is a thief and Parkinson's a cruel sniper. But the love, ambition and hope that carried us through the first adventure remain in this film and are fueled by transition from hope for a cure to work for maximum quality of life.
We were inspired, too, by the new generation. In the original film, my dad passed the torch to me in many ways. That continues in Second Base as I began to lay the foundation for the torch I will pass to my children. They were just starting on their journey of baseball and life, and it's beautiful to watch.
This film is a case study, first, of a very brave man's fight against Parkinson's Disease. Secondly, it's a testament to the power of family, faith and love against the backdrop of what was once known as America's past time. Finally it's an unintentional but powerful handbook for people just beginning their own journey with Parkinson's. I learned how to be a care partner, Dad learned how to fight for what he could and seek help when he couldn't.
We turn it out
As the cure for PD is beyond us, we reach toward what's tangible: individuals and communities living their best, some thriving beyond who and what they were before they were diagnosed.
We visit with baseball legend Dave Parker, who was diagnosed with PD in 2012, in Cincinnati - screening Second Base for him at the Reds Hall of Fame. We meet two super athletes with PD (Jimmy Choi is an American Ninja Warrior and Bill Bucklew walked across country from coast to coast in just over 60 days) who use their strength to raise awareness and funds for PD. We travel to Rock Steady Boxing Headquarters in Indianapolis to see where the dynamic, worldwide Parkinson’s workout phenomenon started.
Along with these adventures, we continue our traditions of camping and father, son and grandson time - from an overnight at the San Diego Zoo - to getting stuffed with the best food in all of baseball at Petco park by Executive Chef Carlos Vargas.
We close on an exciting bit of research about the effect of improvisation on PD that will have us rounding Third Base.
Available for online and private screenings. Email Robert for details.