Minor League Movie

by Cara Gardner

Anyone who's ever lived in the Spokane area, from the turn of the 20th century to the new millennium, knows a little something about the Spokane Indians baseball club. Now, thanks to a newly released documentary, we can take a look back on the team's 100 years of baseball history.

"It's a historical documentary that really dates back more than a century," says Robin Briley, co-owner of Peak Video Productions, the company that created the video. "We traced [the team] back to 1890, and that was before they were called the Spokane Indians. They were really a ragtag [team] back then."

Briley explains that the Spokane Indians got their name in 1903, and despite a short period in the '30s when they were called the Hawks, it hasn't changed.

Briley says the documentary traces the team's triumphs and tragedies.

"A lot of people in Spokane remember the 1970s team with Tommy Lasorda and Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes and Bobby Valentine," Briley says. "We have a segment on that great team, which most experts call the greatest minor league team in the history of baseball. The other thing is the 1946 bus crash that killed nine of the players and injured many of the others. It was the worst professional team accident in the U.S., and it happened at Snoqualmie Pass."

Briley says the documentary will spark memories for people on some of the earlier players.

"It's got Pete Jonas, who was a pitcher, and Jim Barbieri. He was the only baseball player in both a Little League World Series and the real World Series," she explains.

As Briley rattles off names of players and dates of games won, it's apparent just how much work has gone into making this film. The project involved Briley and Peak Video co-owner Jim Bolser, along with Mark Mohr, who produced and wrote the video, and Jim Price, who is currently writing a book on the team. The partners funded the costs of production on their own and hope to make money selling the documentary at local outlets.

"We're selling it at Hastings, Barnes & amp; Noble, Auntie's Bookstore and Yoke's Fresh Market. They'll also sell at Avista Stadium when the Indians start their season this Saturday," Briley says.

The documentary, called Spokane Indians: A Century of Baseball, is in stores now. The film is $23 for a VHS tape and $25 for a DVD. Briley says it runs just under an hour.

Peak Video Productions isn't new to historical documentaries on Spokane. The company has released videos on Spirit Lake, Liberty Lake and the Davenport Hotel. Briley says that her group will continue to work on one or two historical videos every year.

"It transcends all ages -- young, old, boy, girl," Briley says. "We thought it would be a good thing for Spokane, which has been such a big baseball town."

Publication date: 06/19/03