UA filmmaker Larry Foley set to release ‘The First Boys of Spring’

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 462 views 

Larry Foley, the filmmaker and University of Arkansas professor known for documentaries about unique aspects of Arkansas, is set to premiere “The First Boys of Spring” on Oct. 10 at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

According to Emmy-award winning Foley, the baseball tradition known as Spring Training started in 1886 in the Arkansas resort town of Hot Springs. That’s also where it became a tradition, over parts of eight decades, with fans getting a chance to see many of the greats of the game, players for teams including the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Pirates—and the Negro League’s Monarchs, Crawfords and Grays.

The documentary will show at 11 a.m., Oct. 10 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

“The unique time prevents conflict with another significant athletic event — the Arkansas vs. Alabama football game,” noted a University of Arkansas press release.

The First Boys of Spring features tales of baseball Hall of Famers who worked out, gambled and partied in Hot Springs, including Cy Young, Satchel Paige, Honus Wagner and baseball’s first superstar, Mike “King” Kelly. The young Babe Ruth is there too, belting a 573-foot home run into the Arkansas Alligator Farm while trying to convince Boston Red Sox management to play him every day, even though he was already the game’s dominant pitcher.

The documentary is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Billy Bob Thornton, with photography direction by Jim Borden, editing by journalism professor Dale Carpenter, and an original musical score by UA professor emeritus James Greeson.

Following are other dates and locations for showings of the documentary.
• 6 p.m., Oct. 20, at the Ron Robinson Theater, Little Rock (tickets are available at 501-683-5239 or [email protected])

• 2:30 p.m., Oct. 25, at the Fayetteville Public Library

• 6:30 p.m., Oct. 29, at the Fort Smith Public Library

• 5 p.m., Nov. 7, at the Ouachita Room, Rich Mountain Community College, Mena

Foley’s documentary work also includes a November 2012 piece on Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. In addition to Foley, filmmakers Dale Carpenter and Hayot Tuychiev, as well as soundtrack composer James Greeson, played a major role in the Crystal Bridges film. The team began shooting the film in November of 2009 and production took not quite two years.

While working on the Crystal Bridges documentary, Foley pulled together “Up Among the Hills: The Story of Fayetteville.” The hourlong documentary details the history and culture of the town and is narrated by former Fayetteville resident and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The film was written and directed by Foley and funded by the Fayetteville Public Library Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was inspired by Fayetteville native and banker John Lewis, known as "Mr. Fayetteville" for his knowledge of the city's history and his desire get the community involved in its' development. Lewis died in June 2007.

In early 2011, Foley released "Sacred Spaces," a documentary on the life and work of Arkansas architect Fay Jones. Foley wrote and produced the documentary, with Dale Carpenter leading the video effort.

Also in 2011, Foley released the documentary “Bridge to War Eagle,” that included art from the late John Bell Jr. Bell, a popular Fort Smith artist, was featured in the documentary, which is a collection of poignant stories framed by the old steel bridge and iconic grist mill on War Eagle Creek in the Ozark Hills. Foley said at the time that the documentary is a 30-minute film about a wild stream, protected only by the folks who use it, and illustrated by the stories of those who love it.

The above are just some of the documentaries Foley produced, directed and/or wrote.