Posts tagged film
Posts tagged film
Film Legend Honed His Unique Skills on Baseball Field
Muskegon, Michigan, 02-18-2013 — The 108-year-old baseball field
nestled against the sandy dunes in the Bluffton neighborhood has seen
better days. The backstop is rusted and the footworn baselines are a
little crooked, but the field is still playable and the quaint
surrounding neighborhood with its tall trees and fresh lake breezes
make for an enjoyable day on the diamond.
Situated beside the now-vacant Bluffton Elementary School near
Muskegon, Michigan, the baseball field became a gathering place for
members of the Bluffton Actors’ Colony — a community that provided a
seasonal summer home for popular Vaudeville performers in the early
1900s. Young Buster Keaton, whose father helped to found the Bluffton
Actors’ Colony in 1907, called Bluffton his “favorite place on earth”
in his 1960 autobiography, My Wonderful World of Slapstick.
It’s hard to imagine how a little patch of land served as a crucible
that helped to shape the direction of cinema history, but this tiny
parcel of real estate did just that. Baseball was more than a pastime
to Buster Keaton — it was the foundation of his work ethic and
integral to the sense of teamwork that enabled him to create a body of
cinematic magic that has become a national treasure.
While Keaton may have enjoyed the occasional sandlot baseball game
while on the road with his Vaudeville act, it wasn’t until the family
settled in Bluffton that his love of the game flourished. Situated
next to Bullhead Pascoe’s Tavern was a suitable baseball field that
was soon monopolized by actors’ colony residents and their offspring.
Buster, along with fellow colony residents, formed a capable ball team
that often played against local Muskegon factory teams for charitable
Countless news stories, interviews and still photos allude to the
importance of baseball in Keaton’s arsenal of skills. He assembled a
crack team of writers to work on his early films, and it is said that
his studio employment application consisted of only two questions:
“Can you act?” and “Can you play baseball?” A yes on either question
qualified you for a job with Keaton’s company. In addition, Keaton
often hired professional major and minor ball players to fill out his
filmmaking crew. Baseball luminaries like Mike Donlin, Ernie Orsatti
and Byron Houck all found employment with Buster Keaton, and many made
their mark in films as well as on the ball field.
Perhaps most important, baseball was a crucial part of Keaton’s
filmmaking process. When stuck for an idea or gag, it was common for
Keaton’s crew to drop what they were doing and pick up the bats and
balls. A few innings were often all it took to get back into the
groove of writing comedy and it wasn’t unusual to see the Keaton team
on location playing ball wherever there was space enough to
accommodate a quick game. Indeed, pictures survive of Keaton’s crew
playing ball atop railcars during the filming of The General,
considered by many to be one of the greatest films ever made. “Nothing
like baseball,” he always said, “to take your mind off your troubles.”
In short, film may have been Buster’s forte, but baseball was his
Now, the little “field of dreams” that fostered Keaton’s love of
America’s Pastime is threatened by development. The Muskegon School
District must sell off the vacant elementary school and field to make
up for budget deficits. Developers are already making plans for a
residential development and will plow under the ball field to make way
for a subdivision entrance, unless something can be done.
Members of the International Buster Keaton Society, Inc. have high
hopes that the baseball field can somehow be saved or integrated into
future developers’ plans for the property. “If we remove the places we
set aside for children to play, we also take away their chance to
innovate and be inspired once they grow up,” says Patricia
Eliot-Tobias, founder and president of the 20-year old nonprofit
organization. “We urge those with the power to preserve this tiny bit
of real estate to do so in Buster Keaton’s name, and to allow children
to continue enjoying an outdoor experience on this historic field.”
The International Buster Keaton Society has sponsored a petition drive
and website that has started to receive considerable attention from
the film and baseball communities, as well as the legions of fans,
friends and Keaton family members who wish to see the baseball field
saved. For more information, you can visit the site at
One of Buster’s earliest comedies, the two-reel ‘His Wedding Night’. Buster is between Fatty Arbuckle and Al St. John (1917)
Haha omg look at Buster winking at Al
What famous stadium does Buster play “baseball” in The Cameraman?
a) Ebbets Field
b) Wrigley Field
c) Yankee Stadium
d) Fenway Park
The answer is c) Yankee Stadium. Although Ebbets Field would’ve been pretty awesome.
Buster Keaton, 1917.
one of my favorites
Buster looks pretty bad ass here.
Buster Keaton in poster art for College, 1927.
he’s all defined and stuff…