NEW YORK — ESPN will premiere a two-hour documentary in the spring about former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine’s transformation into a hero of Japanese baseball.
Meanwhile, ESPN has acquired “Hellfighters,” a documentary by Jon Frankel profiling Harlem’s high-school football team, the Hellfighters. “Hellfighters” debuted in April at the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival.
“Bobby V in Japan” is the work of ESPN’s new Content Development Group and New York-based Throwback Pictures Inc. (“Andrew Jenks,” “Room 335”), who are following around Valentine as he manages the Chiba Marines.
ESPN vp content development Bob Wallace said Monday that the filmmakers pitched ESPN about doing a profile of Valentine. Valentine, who worked a year at ESPN as an analyst before going to Japan, met with ESPN execs and granted them full access. The filmmakers have been living in Japan for the past four months and plan to stay through the end of the Marines’ season.
Wallace said he was struck by Valentine’s “passion for baseball, his passion for what he thinks baseball should be, his passion for Japanese baseball as well as American baseball. It’s very powerful.”
Bobby Valentine is credited with this idea:
On October 27, 2005, Valentine issued a challenge to the World Series champions, prior to the completion of the tournament, on behalf of the Chiba Lotte Marines. Valentine called for a seven-game World Series to be played between the American and Japanese championship teams. Unlike the World Baseball Classic, a competition featuring sixteen national all-star teams, a World Series-styled tournament between the winners of both the American and Japanese championships has never been played.