Sunday, February 17, 2013

Civil War Sunday - The Ballfield and The General

What do a ball field in Michigan and many Civil War battlefields have in common?

They are endangered.

So, why should people interested in the Civil War care about a ball field in Michigan?  No Civil War battle was fought there.

No, instead, it was the beloved ball field of a man who co-directed and cowrote a movie based on a true Civil War event.  The ball field is still in use.  Who would miss it if it was bulldozed and turned into a residential development?

Well - the man in question is considered one of the best, if not the best writer/director in the history of movies.  This despite the fact that he died nearly 50 years ago.

The movie, The General, is  considered one of the greatest films ever made.  It has certainly stood the test of time.  It was co-written and directed by one of the most acclaimed physical film comedian of all time, Buster Keaton.

Not bad for a silent movie made in 1926.

"The General" is a locomotive.  The 101st anniversary of the Civil War incident it is famous is coming up in April and I may (no promises) blog about it.

Friends of my blog, please watch this clip.  It will take less than four minutes of your time. When you do, consider this:  There are no stunt doubles.  No green screens.  No computer generated special effects.  In fact, no special effects at all.  This is all LIVE before the camera.  This is all REAL.

So, why save this ball field?  It meant a lot to Buster Keaton.  That ballfield was a refuge.  Playing baseball was one of his true loves.  It helped shape his work ethic.  It helped make him what he became.  That should be sufficient.

There are organizations dedicated to the preservation of endangered Civil War battlefields. 

But, my friends, history is so much more than battlefields.   History does not spring from nowhere.  It is the story of the human race.  Stories can not be fully understood unless we experience the surroundings, the "realness", if you will, of the event or the person.  That's why we preserve Civil War battlefields.  We preserve dead generals' birthplaces and homes.  We even preserved the locomotive called "The General"

If you agree this ball field should be saved there is an online petition (which may or may not help), and a website with more information and a way to give money to the cause, if you are so inclined. (Note, the online petition site will solicit you but they clearly state the money goes to them - not this cause.)  Finally, there is a Facebook page called Polyester Cowboy Productions which is attempting to mobilize people.

Is there an endangered historical site near you?


  1. Keaton is someone I admired for his work in film, would be a shame for the field to be bulldozed.

  2. It's interesting that Americans tear down and rebuild and forget to preserve history. It's such a shame.

  3. Well, I hear about these endangered historical sites on television, but I haven't experienced a local one (that I know of) ... I think it would be fun to get the community together to save a ball field or park.

  4. Hope something can be done to preserve it.

  5. How interesting on many levels! Good Lord, are there any statistics on fatality rates of early stunt-men? Great clip...


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