Wallace Community College baseball coach Mackey Sasser will soon be featured on ESPN. That, thanks to Academy Award winning producer and director Alex Gibney.
Gibney, the president of Jigsaw Productions, is producing a segment for ESPN's award winning "30 for 30" documentary series.
"This is basically a documentary about athletes and the obstacles they have had to overcome," Gibney said. "This is an important story. It deals with the psychological issues."
Sasser's "issue" is well known in baseball circles. While playing catcher for the New York Mets, Sasser developed a condition where he couldn't throw the ball back to the pitcher without pumping a couple of times.
"It started back in 1990," Sasser said. "We were playing a game in Atlanta when I was run over at the plate. After that, I was never the same."
Gibney said he was aware of Sasser's circumstances. But it wasn't until last year that he decided to pursue the story.
And if there was ever a person to tell the story, Gibney would be it. He was the director of "We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks" which won three Emmy Awards. He also won an Academy Award for best documentary for "The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer." That's just two of his many awards.
"I was playing tennis with a friend of mine when the subject came up," he said. "So I just stayed on top of it. I started doing more research and decided this was a story that needed to be told.
So Gibney brought a crew to town to film Sasser and the Govs while the team was playing Abraham-Baldwin. The game was originally scheduled to be played on the Wallace campus, but due to the rain it was played at Eagle Stadium in Ozark.
"What I wanted to show was that athletes can overcome obstacles and go on to lead successful lives," Gibney said. "A lot of people don't realize what all athletes go through. These are people. These guys are not machines, and I want to show the human side."
Gibney said he doesn't usually like to talk about his projects beforehand, or while he's filming. He says he generally prefers to wait until the project is finished. He doesn't have an exact date as to when the segment featuring Sasser will air, but he believes it will be some time this spring.
Gibney is headquartered in New York. But his work takes him all over the world. He says if there is a story to be told, then he will go where necessary.
As for Sasser, he said he had no problem participating in this production.
"Everybody knows what happened to me," he said. "All of that is in the past. But my main reason for doing this is, if I can help others, I want to do it. And after hearing the concept of this documentary, I think that's what this project is all about."
Article courtsey of:
By Nathaniel Frazier
Cameraman films Sasser for segment to air on ESPN.
Producer Alex Gibney watches Sasser and his crew on the field.