“The Last Out” is a PBS POV documentary which you can stream free (assuming you are not geoblocked) until 2November22 at pbs.org and the PBS Video app.
It chronicles the trials and tribulations of three Cuban baseball players fleeing the poverty and lack of baseball opportunities to make their career, hopefully, in American professional baseball (MLB). You’ll be introduced these young men, “Happy” Oliveros, Carlos Gonzáles and Victor Baró in Costa Rica training to be noticed by MLB scouts. It is a Los Angeles based agent Gus Dominguez footing the cost hoping his prospects will be signed to a contract by an MLB team and if so he’ll collect 20% of the player’s signing bonus. Hundreds of Cuban wannabe baseball players have left Cuba in the past 5 years to make it in the MLB but only 6 have landed in American professional baseball.
The documentary was filmed over a period of 4 years.
The Cuban players suffer from loneliness and a lack of a strong family presence but is their hope in making it that gives them the fortitude to continue.
At this point:
- Will any of these Cubans make it?
- Are they treated like commodities by the MLB machine?
- Do they have any bargaining power or are they driven by desperation?
- What is the state of Cuban baseball?
- Are sports dreams of making it professionally any different than any other migrant trying to make it to the golden land of the United States?
- The US trade embargo with Cuba made it illegal to sign a professional player with Cuban residence. Was this a misguided policy penalizing Cuban citizens?
In addition to baseball centric issues viewers will see the attempt by one of players to make it through Central America including a trip with smugglers to enter Mexico. One of many thousands fleeing crime and poverty in Central America. These people are literally running to the American border for a dream of peace and economic prosperity. As Cubans they hope for asylum.
Two of the players join their Cuban expatriates in the USA while a third signs a contract with a Dominican Republic baseball team. Do you think they miss baseball?
Is this a baseball or migrant story? It is both and consequently can be enjoyed by a wider audience.
As a closing comment I have a buddy that had a son years ago that was gung-ho into hockey at an elite level. Incredibly he related the story that half the parents thought their children would be playing in the National Hockey League. Could it be that professional sports aspirations are delusional respective of the country they originate in!
RKS Film Rating 90/100.