‘Shape of Shreveport’ hits a home run

Original story posted (with pictures & many other great Shreveport stories) at: http://nvanthyn.blogspot.com/2016/02/shape-of-shreveport-hits-home-run.html

Those of us who are fond of Shreveport-Bossier and its people very much appreciate The Shape of Shreveport documentary series.
Especially, episode 7 — on professional baseball in Shreveport.
Sure, that’s personal because (1) baseball has been a passion for about 60 years; (2) I’ve written about baseball in 24 previous blog posts over four years; and (3) eight of those blogs pertained to the old Shreveport Sports, Braves and Captains.
And another reason: I was one of the people interviewed for The Shape of Shreveport baseball episode.
In case you haven’t followed my e-mails and Facebook posts in the last year, The Shape of Shreveport is a project created by Will and Jim Broyles through their Ring Media Group.
Here is the objective, borrowed from the “Shape” web site: “… Our end goal is to create civic pride in Shreveport. As lifelong Shreveporters, we believe we and this city will see the benefit of this investment in the long term if people come together and begin to understand our past so we can move forward as a community with a unified vision of what we want to become.”
Not having lived in Shreveport-Bossier since 1988, I can’t judge what kind of shape it’s in — financially, socially, artistically, spiritually, etc. — and I don’t know what kind of clout it has within Louisiana or the Ark-La-Tex; I don’t know how strong its leadership is.
What I can tell you, having seen most of the episodes in this series, is that The Shape of Shreveport is well done. The material is interesting, well-researched and well-written. The history — often difficult — is fascinating, especially if you are nostalgic (as I often am).
Episodes 1 through 4 premiered last summer, and episodes 5 through 8 were introduced last Thursday (Jan. 28). Both premieres were grand occasions, with sellout crowds at Shreveport’s venerable and renovated Strand Theatre.
We were invited to a private preview and the Strand event last week. Planned to attend, but were unable to because of a bad break (some people will know the hidden meaning in that sentence.)
Sorry to have missed it. From all I have read and heard, it was — in baseball terms — a big hit. And that’s all the episodes — on Shreveport during the Civil War, on “The Bottoms” and the roots of musical great Huddy “Lead Belly” Ledbetter, and on Barksdale Air Force Base.
Hard to say that they were better than episodes 1-4, which includes pieces on Martin Luther King Jr. and Elvis Presley’s visits to Shreveport, and “A Tale of Two Crashes.”
But I’m not objective or impartial here: I loved the baseball episode. And — bragging rights — it was 23 minutes, 40 seconds. That’s 5 minutes longer than any other episode so far; more than half have been in the 15- to 16-minute range.
Not saying that baseball is more important … oh, yes, I am.

So I’m honored to have been asked to participate. Three blog pieces I wrote last summer dealt with the Shreveport ballparks — SPAR Stadium (known as Texas League Park until 1959) and Fair Grounds Field — and those caught the attention of The Shape of Shreveport people.
Much of the credit for the series belongs to Chris Charles Scott III, the writer and producer of the episodes, and — in my case — the interviewer who came to Fort Worth. He is from East Texas (Chapel Hill, near Longview), a Baylor U. grad who is now based in Las Vegas but has made Shreveport a second home.
It’s his interest, research and vision that ties the episodes together. And the narrators — in the baseball episode, Shreveport media personality Tim Fletcher — add the drama.
I can’t speak for the rest of the people interviewed, but I know this: They took the segments from my interview and made the most of them. Believe me, in a session that took well over an hour, I stumbled through many thoughts (not unusual).
I have no complaints with how it all came out on screen.
This is a solid history and narration of Shreveport’s baseball story, from early on through the demise of the ballparks and the Class AA franchise (it left after the 2002 season).
I am nitpicking: I wish there had been mention of two Sports player/managers — Francis “Salty” Parker (1940s) and Mel McGaha (mid-1950s). Both became Shreveport residents for a couple of decades and went on to manage and coach in the major leagues.
Wish that Jon Long, the 1980s/early 1990s Captains general manager who died so suddenly and much too soon, had been recognized.
And maybe credit should have been given to the Atlanta Braves, whose investment and interest helped bring pro baseball back to Shreveport in 1968 and put an aging ballpark back into working shape, and the San Francisco Giants, who provided the players for our teams and had a strong, stable working agreement with the franchise for 24 consecutive years.
So now I’ve filled in those minor gaps.
Among those interviewed, it was nice to see the perspectives of longtime Captains main owner/operator Taylor Moore, a friend for decades; 1980s assistant general manager Elizabeth Denham (now Oliver), who was a pioneer of sorts among Texas League front-office personnel; and old friend J.W. Jones, the Sports’ 1950s catcher and then for three decades a mainstay in the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Department.
Don’t want to share too much of what’s in this baseball episode or the other episodes because, well, this is a commercial enterprise, and The Shape of Shreveport has the videos on sale — episodes 1-4 are available now on the web site and episodes 5-8 will go on sale in late spring or early summer. It’s $20 for each set.
It’s just the beginning; there are plans for 20 episodes. And back to where I started, if you love Shreveport-Bossier — as I said in the baseball episode, “it will always be home” — seeing these videos is worth the effort.

Web site: http://shapeofshreveport.com/home/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Shape-Of-Shreveport-1625294684373775/
Note: Images taken from Episode 7, with permission from The Shape of Shreveport

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