Released in 1987 as an HBO movie of the week, the minor league baseball film Long Gone is something of a coveted genre entry by baseball film fans. Never receiving a proper release on DVD and only available on VHS, the film was based on Paul Hemphill’s 1979 novel, and was directed by Martin Davidson (The Lords of Flatbush, Eddie and the Cruisers, Heart of Dixie). Featuring superb camerawork by then up and coming cinematographer Robert Elswit (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Bloo…d, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation), this is a loving and funny and extremely entertaining throwback to the 1950’s, showcasing a time and place when baseball truly was America’s favorite sport. Starring a super cocky William Petersen as a broken-down player and reluctant manager with WWII battle scars, the narrative charts an up and down season for the Tampico Stogies, a Class D farm team competing in Florida’s Gulf Coast League.
A super-hot and super-young Virginia Madsen was cast as Petersen’s love interest, and Dermot Mulroney (was he even 20 years old?!) got some great scenes as a young second basement who, in addition to another recent free agent pick-up, might hold the key to his team’s potential reversal in the standing. Thrown in a shady subplot with the team’s corrupt owners and social observations and comments about the racial barrier in sports about to broken open and you’ve got a richer than expected film that really deserves a much higher profile; surely HBO could release a DVD, no? Shot on location in Bradenton, FL and featuring some excellent action on the baseball field, the script is peppered with witty zingers and a nice amount of casual vulgarity, while Petersen’s inherently brash vibe is felt in scene after scene, as he totally owned this film with boozy swagger and supreme confidence. Try to track this one down – it’s so much fun.