“The Natural” Comes to the Bay

Oscar winner Robert Redford does narration for Saving the Bay: The Story of San Francisco Bay, on Wednesday March 25, 2009

Oscar winner Robert Redford does narration for Saving the Bay: The Story of San Francisco Bay, on Wednesday March 25, 2009

It’s rare, okay…never, that I wake up and my first real agenda item of the day is a meeting/session with Robert Redford.

But that was my day yesterday, meeting at Command Productions in Sausalito, along with the Saving the Bay crew (Executive Producer Ron Blatman, Writer and Producer Miles Saunders, Editor Blair Gershkow, Composer Mitchell Covington and myself – Christopher “Mac” MacDonald) and sound engineer extraordinaire Robbie Dickson…oh yeah…and Redford.

An unassuming and pleasant man, The Natural doesn’t show up with an entourage. He drives up in a modest Lexus doning a pull on cap, t-shirt and jeans with leather jacket. I note his tennis shoes are as old and well worn as mine (considerable). His brief case is made of old leather and is probably 25 years old.

He exchanges quick pleasantries, but wants to get into the batting cage and work.

Before he arrived, Blair, Miles and myself were engaged in the usual banter about Spring training and the prospects for the Giants this year. Not great news, but we all agreed that baseball is far more than just winning and losing. There is something healing about the game, which is the real reason that people are so dismembered about Roid use. They keep trying to make it about who lied, covered up blah blah blah. The reality is that baseball has an inherent Zen-like purity that the large majority of fans are afraid we are losing: first to money and greed; second to drug use; worse…to the Dodgers this year if Ramirez stays healthy.

At the end of the narration sessions yesterday, watching Redford fall  behind on a few takes 1 and 2 or 0 and 2, then watching him dial it in like The Natural he is and drill the third version up the alley, or under the first baseman’s metaphorical glove, and occassionally just plant one in the seats…clean and neat (like knocking back a shot of Woodford Reserve) then humbly trotting around the bases I saw I was watching a very serious man with an acute eye and directness.
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He was there to hit the pitches thrown him from the sound booth (see pictures) and also promote a great four-part documentary on how the San Francisco Bay estuary, once polluted and in serious danger of being filled in, was saved by the courageous activism of a few elderly women in the 60s. Saving the Bay: The Story of San Francisco Bay, is a stunning piece that I feel privileged to be a part of as I have loved and Northern California, the Bay, and Giants baseball since I was a kid and Willie Mays was in center field with the parking lot visible through a chain link fence.

Before baseball season starts again this year, rent or buy The Natural. It’s a quiet film that will endure just as baseball will endure. All true baseball fans know this and enjoy a day at the Yard whether we are on a tear or taking it on the chin. It’s a communal event where you have time to get to know those sitting around you. A “third space” if you are open.

Who is our Roy Hobbs gonna be this year? I dunno. Sure could use one in the number 4 slot so we can move Molina to 5th where he belongs.

God I love baseball. I also love the Bay and encourage all to visit the savingthebay.org site and learn more about our own history and how you can get involved. Please feel free to write me with any comments or questions of interest.

~Mac

P.S. and yes, I did get him to autograph my DVD copy of The Natural…get real!

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