Babe Ruth was just a rookie serving time in the minor leagues in 1914, when he hit his first professional homerun as a visiting opponent in Toronto. The significance of that homerun grew as Ruth became a baseball and pop culture legend. Today, a commemorative plaque marks the location of this single yet prophetic hit. Everything else, however, has vanished: Hanlan's Point Stadium is now the site of an island airport. The amusement park that sat near the stadium entrance, once dubbed "Canada's Coney Island," has long been extinct. Yet Babe Ruth's homerun ball has outlived them in mythology, sitting on the bottom of Lake Ontario—so some believe. But what of the individuals who made up the Toronto baseball team that ended up on the wrong side of this legend? Obscure and forgotten, they are the Ghosts of Baseball Past. But there was a time when their dreams were alive, their own legends a possibility, and Ruth was just another player like them, hoping to find glory in the major leagues.
Ghostball is a feature-length documentary film, currently in pre-production with a planned April 2016 release date. The film is being made entirely independently by Toronto-based filmmaker Randy Chase, who works professionally as a Researcher and Story Producer in documentary film & TV. He is also a former writer and host of music documentaries for CBC Radio's 'Definitely Not The Opera.' His radio and film work reflect an interest in zeitgeist and the hidden value of the obscure.
In 1914, "Toronto Maple Leafs" is the name of the city's popular baseball team, not its hockey team (that would change 13 years later). They play in the International League, against the Baltimore Orioles, Buffalo Bisons, Rochester Hustlers, Jersey City Skeeters, Newark Indians, Providence Grays and Montreal Royals. Managed by a future Hall Of Fame inductee, the team includes a local boy later made war hero; an outfielder with seven fingers; a former major league homerun champ; a philosophy student; a Cuban teenager; and a pitcher named Bunny who taught the King Of England how to hold a ball. What lays ahead is victory, heartache, fistfights, missed trains, a European War, gruesome injuries, and a nemesis who will dominate them during each of their five encounters that season: George "Babe" Ruth.
Dramatic re-creations, animated to look like vintage baseball cards, magazines, newspapers and silent film, illustrate the lives and gameplay of each Toronto player as the 1914 season unfolds. Playing with time, Ghostball also imagines the techniques of modern TV sports broadcasting filtered through the technology and style of 1914.
MAY 7, 2017
A truly independent production, Ghostball has been slowly and quietly building in increments over the past three years. Working towards completion funding, we expect to have a significant update by Fall 2017. In the meantime, please follow the project on Twitter @Ghostball1914.
AUG 30, 2014
After a year of development, Ghostball enters a pre-production stage. Development included research, film and animation tests, and uniform design. With the 100-year anniversary of the Babe Ruth homerun around the corner, this website launches a stage of writing, production planning, and fund-raising. Stay tuned for developments. Ghostball is expected to be completed for the start of the baseball season in 2016.