Honoring the rich history of the Negro Baseball League and a largely unknown phenomenon as “barnstorming”, former teacher and now filmmaker, Gary Thomsen cinematically captures a remarkable endeavor in this film.
Legends of the Road offers a comprehensive, inspiring look at a bicycle road trip from Seattle to Kansas City, Mo, by Thomsen and a select group of students from Seattle and Victoria BC. that drew attention to a forgotten piece of African American and American history. In 2000, “Legends of the Road” tour commemorated the 100th anniversary of barnstorming. Their tour was done on bicycles: 71 days, 33 games and 5,100 miles.
“While many American and Canadian sports fans are familiar with the Negro Leagues and with iconic players Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and Buck O’Neil, few are aware of the men who traversed two countries playing the game they loved in the face of rampant prejudice and discrimination – the barnstormers. Their journeys dispelled the notion of white supremacy on the baseball field and fostered the breaking down of racial stereotypes, leading Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to say, “They laid down the first plank in the civil rights movement.” And while thousands saw these barnstormers play against local teams, their exploits and travails are largely unknown – a fact that resonated with these students, who felt it was a story worth bringing to light.”
“While not facing the same racial discrimination the black players endured, the students nonetheless faced challenges. On many days, they rode more than 100 miles to play a ballgame that night. At times, they could not find accommodations and were frequently short on cash. Like their Black barnstorming counterparts, they overcame those challenges and helped save a piece of American and Canadian history.”
—Patrick Robinson, West Seattle Herald
The film includes priceless interviews with Kansas City baseball legend, Buck O’Neil and Negro Baseball League Museum president, Bob Kendrick. Mixing provocative classroom scenes with captivating video of the epic trip, the story is as inspiring as it is historically significant for Kansas City, baseball and America.