Changing the game and transforming America

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Film producer Byron Motley joins Nestor from Kansas City to discuss his father’s work as an umpire in the Negro Leagues and his quest to have the recent documentary “The League” made to continue to tell the American baseball story and extend the work of the museum in his hometown.


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Byron Motley, Nestor Aparicio

Nestor Aparicio  00:01

W en st Towson, Baltimore, Baltimore positive or positively taking the Maryland crabcake tour out on the road will be a Coco’s on Thursday. It is an all star game week and sort of a rare All Star Game week around here with the Orioles are relevant we have all second half of incredible baseball together but what’s up at a different kind of baseball here in this one movie is out this week it was premiered earlier in the week, you might still be able to catch it out of the theater when you catch this piece because certainly watch it on digital. I wanted to involve Allah McCallum in this conversation. Alan has been little off the field a little bit this year. But Alan McCallum and I have discussed on the air for a better part of 25 years, the Negro Leagues and baseball and the Homestead Grays and the amazing little library they have out of the Owings Mills Town Center. When you get off the subway out there. There’s a little mini Hall of Fame. But I picked the real Hall of Fame out Kansas City where this guy hails from. He is he’s a singer songwriter. He’s a musician and entertainer but he has put together a film along with Sam Pollard. He is from Kansas City. We welcome by remotely on to the program whose father was a was an umpire grandfather umpire in the in the in the Negro Leagues and wrote a book. And now it’s a film it’s the lead by ring. I don’t have a lot of time with you. How are we going to get all of the you know, all of this Negro Baseball Museum in history and all of this stuff in the film into 10 minutes, man?

Byron Motley  01:25

Yeah, I know. And my father was the umpire was my father, my grandfather, sorry, you look too young Abba, Father. I know. I can be anybody’s father, as old as I am.

Nestor Aparicio  01:35

I wrote a book on this topic. And you know, I’ve been out to the Hall of Fame several times, I was gonna wear my Geddy Lee shirt, because getting as all the autograph base pairs, and I’m a wrench band. But that museum in Kansas City, I think I’ve been there three or four times through the course of going out to see the Royals going out to sea to Chief the jazz museums right next door. The barbecue is good. And Kansas City. I’ve always been inspired that every time I’m there, and whomever I take with me, whether it’s my wife, we’ve taken friends there, that there’s so much more than just walking through that. Really, it’s a museum as much as it’s anything. And there’s so much more than then most baseball fans know.

Byron Motley  02:14

Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, it’s just an incredible place. It started 25 years ago, I think 1997 was the first year. My father, along with buckled Neil and all the living players at the time he lived in Kansas City, they helped found that museum and they all helped pay money for it. Each of them would go around month after month, and my father would pay one month. But look, I had another month to keep to to create this deeper like museum. And so it was little storefront before across the street from where the museum is now a little storefront like one room. That was that was the museum. And then they raised enough money to build the museum they have now which is absolutely incredible. And my father’s statues at home plate right here. So yeah, but history is just has been amazing and to watch it grow. And I think they’re building a new museum and a couple of years of the YMCA building where the Negro Leagues were actually founded right down the street from where the museum is now. So it’s an incredible, incredible place. My friend, Dr. Warwick was just in New York. The singer this weekend, and I saw a picture on the internet. It’s Oh, she’s I said, I sent her a Texas dx. And you’re in Kansas City. I said, Fine. Not I want a phone there. She was. I didn’t I didn’t know this, because it’s right there. So she promises next time and then you’re in Kansas City, you’re flying in.

Nestor Aparicio  03:55

Go nuts into jazz section two. I mean, like I tell people when you go to Kansas City, you can’t not go to those museums. I mean, pay one price, and it’s an all day or if you choose. I sat there with headsets on listen to Satchmo and listen to music. And but but the museum for the baseball side of the game I also visited the gift shop because Allen loves Negro Baseball history. I bought him coasters. So I’m just letting you know with all the logos so whatever I’ve been over this place, got coasters overs for you the film and trying to tell the story. And I think most of us you love baseball. My last name is Aparicio on purpose. I came into the world through a baseball angle here in Baltimore back in the 60s, and a cousin that came from Venezuela with a dream and here I am 55 years later. So baseball greatly impacted my life. And you know every aspect of my life. And I think about the stories that were untold by Ken Burns, the stories that have been untold through what we’ve had here in Baltimore, where we almost lost our franchise. Now we have to get a lease again. There’s so much money In baseball, and this part of the history, it kind of stopped, right? Like Negro Baseball stopped. And the white man sort of took over and said, We’ll take over and bankrupted black baseball. And this film tell us a little bit more about that. But also in honoring the legends that we may know satchel page, Jackie Robinson and some others that we don’t know. You tried to tell a story in a film that I don’t know this story has been told. And not in a romantic way like League of Their Own with the girls, but more like a documentary and Sam Pollard, let’s start with him. And and you’re pitching this thing out? I mean, you got heavy heavy hitters involved in this quest love heavy hitters involved in this film.

Byron Motley  05:43

Yeah. Well, they got it. You know, a lot of people didn’t quite get it that oh, this is cute. New Release. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But when I met with Sam, he’s like, yeah, we can find the people who can pay some money to get it done. Which we did. So that led to it. But yeah, it was really. I guess just I kept fighting the fight for 24 years, because I knew that this was a great story had to be told. Speaking to Ken Burns, that’s I remember that scene, that documentary. When it came out. I was watching it. But this is really great. But the one hour section he did underneath really says those are not the stories I grew up hearing as a child. That’s not it. I said, there’s a lot more to the story. And so he didn’t talk

Nestor Aparicio  06:30

to the right people at that time is what you’re saying? Well,

Byron Motley  06:34

he talked to buckle, Neil can’t talk any better to anybody better than O’Neill buckle. Neil was the Godfather in April leaks at that time. But he didn’t go into all the details of this. It was kind of whitewash the Navy leaks. So I thought these are not the stories I heard growing up. So a friend of mine told bases. Well, you know, I’d love to work on that project with DCS. But I’m not the person to do this. You are. And so that’s what got the ball rolling for me to start interviewing all the players I did and widows and children, the players and former owners of teams and whoever I could get to. And it was a watershed point for me to encounter these incredible, incredible people that I got to be friends with. Some We’re like family. You know, when was my family my father, but you know, getting to know buckle, Neil. Much better than I did as a kid. When we first saw me at the Negro League baseball museum. I had not seen Buchan. Oh my god and years and the person who’s just amazing. He screws it Oh, my God little Motley. And I thought he recognized. You know, it’s just, you know, meeting people like that and really getting to know them so well. And yeah, it was it was a great journey. I missed them all dearly. They’ve all gone on to glory. Now most of the people I interviewed and knew

Nestor Aparicio  08:04

I had Leon day in my studio back in the day in the in the the Orioles, were in the business of honoring players like that in the early 90s. When they open Camden Yards, and they ran descendants. I’m still very much in touch with one of his nieces who’s a beautiful chef here in town and makes me crab cakes from time to time by remotely is our guest the film is the league it is available Google it, you can find it out a buyer and you’re by trade. This isn’t what you do, right. I mean, you’ve been involved in films and stuff, but you’re really a singer performer, your role more on the music side of things. And you’ve also done some books. Your Cuba book was beautiful. And I’ve spent some time down in Havana around baseball as well, when the Orioles traveled down there. And now it’s been 25 years.

Byron Motley  08:45

They did that? Yep. Yeah.

Nestor Aparicio  08:47

I mean, you really you’re a passion project, man, are you not?

Byron Motley  08:51

Absolutely. If you don’t have passion, then go home and go to bed. Because otherwise, you got you got to be passionate about what you’re passionate about. And I am that person. I am that person. I love what I do. And I I don’t get involved with something just to do it for fun is his passion with

Nestor Aparicio  09:10

getting this done, because we have to wrap up I got a short window with you. Extremely happy with it, you know, from a getting every single thing in for 24 years trying to fit all of that in just from a cutting room floor standpoint to try to get every story in. And I’m sure some of it didn’t make the cutting room floor or the internet. You can have outtakes and more information for people, right?

Byron Motley  09:33

Everything’s not under the story. There’s a lot more because we didn’t get into the house. The women were really involved the plate for three women played in a deep release. It’s talked about just kind of touched, but there’s no interviews with one of them. Who was still living at the time. She played with the men. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Her name is Manny Pina Johnson incredible lady. Yeah, so that’s how the musicians were more involved with the leagues and how some of them own teams and they traveled on the same road the buses with these players. So yeah, they’re three well known musicians own nearly baseball teams. So there’s there’s a lot more stories here a lot more stories.

Nestor Aparicio  10:18

Well, you can find them all in the league. And again, I’m just gonna give a free shout out everybody Kansas City go to church that gets barbecue as well. You know, you don’t want to do that.

Byron Motley  10:28

Gates or Brian’s? Those are my favorite.

Nestor Aparicio  10:30

Hey, I mean, it’s a good arguments. Listen, I tore here I’m in Maryland, and I’m in I’ll take you to faith. He’s I’ll take you to Costas. I’ll take you to pet and they’re all different. And you can and you can pick which one you like. You just need them all. I swear, I agree with you, man. Congratulations, we’ll get the film done. And we hope to have sandpile around at some point later on maybe the summer to talk about as well. Hey, you picked a great time in Baltimore to get interest interest is up in here in Cincinnati and other places. You guys beat us up at Kansas City a number of years ago and I had to Jeff Gomery on recently Brian price right buddy of mine as well. But you guys you know you’re digging out of some things there. But you had your parade. I saw the parade. There’s a parade district parade, right?

Byron Motley  11:12

That’s right. Kansas City does not play when it comes to sports does not play.

Nestor Aparicio  11:17

You’re gonna deal with your football team at some point before it’s all over with by remotely is our guest. He is a singer, songwriter, musician, entertainer filmmaker. The film is the league but the history of Negro Baseball leagues and lots of stories that maybe you haven’t heard that you can hear it’s great documentary also involves quest love, make sure you’re checking that out. You can download it digitally as well. But I really appreciate Tom come back. We’ll talk to music in Cuba next time, brother.

Byron Motley  11:40

Sounds good to me.

Nestor Aparicio  11:41

You got it. All right, man. Now crabcake tours back out on the road this week. We’re gonna be a Coco’s on Thursday. Speaking to sports day shine is gonna join us from the Washington Post. A lot of baseball Summer Olympics received is going to be by as well as state Senator Cory McCray, always love having Cory on and Marcellus crabcake we’ll see you over Coco’s I will have some Maryland lottery scratch offs to give away in conjunction with our friends at window nation. We present the Maryland crab cake towards 25 years ago and strong on August 3 will be over Costas and drug city as well. Celebrating we are wn st am 1570, Towson Baltimore and we never stop talking Baltimore. Positive

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