The 2001 NBC Champions Untold Story. Until now.
An Alaskan filmmaker needs your help to fund this film project.
“Well, why don’t you do it?” my Dad asked, as we sat behind home plate at Mulcahy Stadium in the summer of 1999. I still remember that hot summer so long ago, the smell of burning pine trees from a huge forest fire just north of Anchorage. We had been talking about how the American sports media had really overlooked baseball in Alaska, and all the amazing talent that had come through the Alaska Baseball League. The list of talent that played at one time or another since the Pilots first took the field in 1969 was incredible: Mark McGwire, Randy Johnson, Mickey Hatcher, Suguru Egawa, Dan Boone, Randy Jones, Chris Chambliss, Dave Winfield, Tom Seaver, Bump Wills, Graig Nettles, and Rick Monday, to name a few.
So, I took up his challenge. In the summer of 2001, my wife and I, together with our one-year old son, set off to follow the Pilots around the state on what I thought would be a small short film on the history of the Glacier Pilots. This small film grew into a true catching-lightning-in-a-bottle story: the NBC & ABL Championship 2001 Team - filled with the inspiring stories of young baseball players and the last days of one of Alaska's greatest baseball coaches and personalities, Jack O'Toole.
It was bittersweet for Jack's health was declining. He had suffered a stroke and the Pilots asked me to speak with him and record his tales about Pilots baseball. I knew of Jack, as most Alaskans did, seeing him every year coaching the Pilots, but I had never really met him before. As a kid growing up in Anchorage, the Glacier Pilots were like the New York Yankees to me. My father, a high school coach himself, was also battling ill health at this time. I felt a special kinship with Jack's son, Patrick O'Toole. We both spent a great part of our childhoods in the ball park. It was my privilege to be able to preserve some of Jack’s personal stories for future generations of Pilots fans. Those stories became a part of the first documentary I did about the Glacier Pilots.
"Lefty & Jack" was released in 2004, a 49-minute documentary (available for purchase on DVD at (www.glacierpilots.com) featuring then Pilot's Coaches: Jack O'Toole and Lefty Van Brunt, reminiscing about a lot of really funny and exciting moments of playing baseball in Alaska. The film was well received and met with great reviews.
On to the rest of the series! Problem was the next two films’ scopes are so large it really became too much for one person to do all alone, and, like most documentaries that you believe in, it was a labor of love. I wasn't able to tackle what became the huge, complex and fascinating story of the Glacier Pilots before my father passed away in 2011.
Now though, with your help, it is possible to finally get this done.
The funding of this project (through Kickstarter.com) will allow me to finish the project, BUT it won't be just one film! This project will also include a web series of the 2001 Pilots – premiering this year, a separate documentary on the History of the Pilots and a final feature film documentary on the 2001 team for film festivals and project donors (1st BASE LEVEL and higher).
The funding is key, and it won’t be an easy task. I need to raise at least $17,500 in 30 days. Those funds will make it possible for me buy music clearances and hire the additional editing and post production services that this project deserves, along with paying for film festival fees and other promotional items. The Glacier Pilots ball club has donated tickets and items as they want the story told just as much as I do.
Kickstarter Project Link:
Kickstarter campaigns operate under an “all-or-nothing” funding model, so if the Glacier Pilots Legacy project does not reach its goal at the end of 30 days, then the Pilots and I go home empty-handed. Be sure to follow the project on Twitter (@pilotslegacy) and Facebook. Make sure to spread the word to your social media networks. Consider donating as little as $5 to help the project come to life. Some of the sponsor gifts offered for those who decide to donate at a higher level include DVDs, Pilots home game tickets, Pilots merchandise and even a producer credit in the film.
If you’d like more information about the Glacier Pilots Legacy Project, see interviews with MLB ballplayers whom are Pilots Alumni, or to schedule an interview with Robert, please email
or send him a tweet @pilotslegacy.
Robert Barr was born on the wild and wooly frontier of suburban Anchorage, Alaska. The son of professional educators, he's been making films and editing since he was a child. Later he majored in Broadcasting, Journalism, History, Anthropology and English at the Arizona State University - Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, where as a radio DJ he created, produced and starred in a weekly cable access show, KASR Video. After graduation, Robert moved to Los Angeles studied Cinema Production at Los Angeles City College and has been working in the entertainment industry in various capacities from production to post-production with film, 16mm, 35mm, HD and SD. He produces programs through his company, Diablos Del Sol Productions.
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