Ron Blomberg couldn't wait to fly from Atlanta to see Monday night's screening of "Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story" in Commack.
"It's unbelievable," says Blomberg, who became baseball's first designated hitter, for the Yankees in 1973. "Being a Jewish athlete and part of the tribe, it's just like the Jackie Robinson thing. It's great to see so many Jewish athletes in the game now."
The documentary, which was first shown on Long Island in July at the Stony Brook Film Festival, won the award for best editing at its world premiere in June at the Breckenridge Film Festival in Colorado. It also has been seen this summer at festivals as distant as Jerusalem and San Francisco and will screen at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown this Sunday.
Dustin Hoffman narrates the film, which examines the relationship between Jewish Americans and baseball. Monday's 7 p.m. screening follows the opening of "32 at 75," an art exhibit dedicated to Sandy Koufax, also at the Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center.
Peter Miller, the film's director, will introduce the movie before scurrying off to Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, where he will participate in a discussion after it screens there, also Monday at 7, as part of its documentary series.
"I've heard a lot of good things about the movie," says Art Shamsky, a member of the 1969 champion Mets. "It sounds like it's going to be a good night."
Blomberg and Shamsky, both of whom are enshrined in the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Commack, will be there to join a question-and-answer session. It follows the film, with panelists including Pulitzer Prize winner Ira Berkow, the film's screenwriter, and Adam Greenberg. Pinch hitting for the Chicago Cubs in 2005, Greenberg was knocked out of the major leagues, beaned by the first pitch he saw as a rookie. At 29, he still hopes to make it back to the majors.
Author Marty Appel, the youngest public relations director of a major-league team, serving nine years with the Yankees four decades ago, will be the moderator.
"No film has ever focused on the interesting contributions of Jews to our national pastime . . . Greenberg, Al Rosen, Koufax . . . " Appel says, reeling off several others.
Ron Howard and CNN host Larry King are among the celebrity fans in the 79-minute, unrated film, which will open at the Malverne Cinema Nov. 5.
Blomberg underscores the film's importance. "In my high school in Atlanta, half of my teammates were in the Ku Klux Klan. I was surrounded - I was right in the middle of it. I saw a lot of prejudice, like the blacks did.
"Most of the Jews I grew up with became a doctor or a lawyer or worked for Mom and Dad," he said. "With this movie and whoever watches it, they'll see that Jews have an opportunity to play baseball."
Suffolk Y JCC, $15, members $10, including refreshments; Theatre Three $5