Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Based on the novel by William Brasher, The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings is set in the segregated south of 1939. African-American baseball pitcher Bingo Long (Billy Dee Williams), tired of being jerked around by the less-than-ethical managers of the Negro League teams, forms his own barnstorming ball club. His partner in this endeavor is black catcher Leon Carter (James Earl Jones). Though boycotted by powerful Negro League manager Sallison Porter (Ted Ross), the Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings flourish, gaining a loyal fandom with every new game and cutting into the League's profits. Finally, Porter offers Long a deal: if the Motor Kings can win one big game with the Negro All-Stars, Long's team will be allowed to join the League. Also appearing in Bingo Long is Richard Pryor as a ballplayer who tries to break through the big-league color line by pretending to be everything from a Hispanic to a Native American named "Chief Tokohama"; if Pryor seems to disappear for long periods during the film, it's because his role was written to accommodate his many nightclub appearances. The producers originally wanted young Steven Spielberg to direct, but -- inspired by the success of Jaws -- he turned this down in favor of doing Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
athlete, baseball, big-game, Black [race], kidnapping, pitching [sports], race-relations