On down the road, when the Lexington Legends are celebrating their silver anniversary and then their golden anniversary, the interested can look back at Legendary: When Baseball Came to the Bluegrass to see how it all began.
The film, which premiered Tuesday night at the Kentucky Theatre, is a historical record of how the Legends overcame the odds to obtain a team, build a stadium and bring Class A baseball to Lexington 11 years ago.
"Looking back at the archival footage that everyone provided, we realized this was a very significant historical moment bringing baseball back to Lexington," Michael Crisp, the film's director, said Tuesday at the Kentucky, "especially in light of so many professional sports franchises in Lexington don't make it, they don't survive."
The Legends' beginning is the most interesting part of the film, made by producer Scott Hall and Crisp, who directed The Very Worst Thing about the 1958 Floyd County school bus disaster.
While Alan Stein hatched the idea when baseball expanded in 1984 — Stein thought more major-league teams would logically mean more minor-league teams — it took 15 years for the ball to get rolling.
Turned out, that ball had to go through an obstacle course of obstructions. City government denied public funds and no minor-league baseball stadium in the country had been built without some civic financial backing.
Stein rounded up private investors, but some shirked their commitments when the decision was made to build on the north end of town.
There are extensive interviews with Stein, of course, and former politician and current lobbyist Bob Babbage, who was an investor.
But the most interesting retelling comes from Brad Redmon, the former Tates Creek baseball star and current owner of the Jet's Pizza franchise in Lexington, who had ended up being the Legends' first majority owner.
Redmon shies away from the spotlight and declines most press interviews. But Crisp coaxes Redmon into providing anecdotal detail, including a make-or-break moment in which the Redmon family was driving in a heavy rainstorm on the way to Destin, Fla., when Stein called in search of more funds.
Somehow, it all got done. A harsh winter set the construction schedule back to the point where it was impossible to believe the first pitch would happen as scheduled, and as Stein had promised the South Atlantic League. But it did. Stein's son, Scooter, did the honors.
Being there that night, what I remember is how impressive and first-class Applebee's Park looked, the feeling of civic pride, and how, as Stein beams in the film, families were everywhere.
In fact, in the film's interview of the young man who camped out to be the first in line to buy Legends tickets, the touching part is when Daniel Cottingham says his father came from Northern Kentucky to join him.
The rest of the film is a mix of Legends milestone moments — the Roger Clemens appearance; the meltdown of opposing manager Joe Mikulik that went viral on the Internet — and behind-the-scene interviews on the inner workings.
"When we were filming it, the Legends were celebrating their 10-year history," Crisp said. "And they were so successful throughout the years, we thought, 'Well, this is just getting stronger.'"
In fact, at the end of the film, Stein says, "I feel like we're just getting started."
It's an ironic touch considering that the CEO recently announced his retirement. No matter. For those who didn't live the story, as Stein did, "Legendary: How Baseball Came to the Bluegrass" is the well-done story of a job well done.