America's Pasttime

There is a good review at the NY Times today about “Reel Baseball,” a DVD collection of early baseball films. It includes this remarkable plot summary for “His Last Game,” a movie from 1909:

[T]he story is unusually pointed: a Choctaw Indian, the star pitcher of his local (integrated!) baseball team, is plied with drink by a pair of gamblers who want him to throw the game; in an argument he kills one of them and is immediately sentenced to death by firing squad.

But as he is digging his own grave, the townspeople show up and press him into service for a game. He pitches, wins for the home team and then returns to the open grave, where he is summarily executed.

Wow.

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