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Questions and Answers with Robert Cochrane about Boys of Summer

Last well we mentioned the DVD release of the documentary movie Boys of Summer. The movie is the story of Robert Cochrane and his father, Dan, going on a road trip to each of the MLB ballparks. Robert's father has Parkinson's disease and all profits from the movie are going to the Michael Fox Foundation which is raising money to find a cure for Parkinson's. If you have ever known anyone with this, you know it is a worthy cause. The movie has received some excellent reviews. 

I had intended to call Robert, this past week, to ask him some questions about the movie but something came up and we, here at the site, seemed to lose focus on anything else. For the life of me I can't remember what it was but it seemed really important at the time. So with time running short before I leave for a little vacation in the sun, I emailed Robert a handful of questions yesterday and he was nice enough to respond. 

First, how is your dad?

Dad, as of today, is doing well. Parkinson's is a very up-and-down disease, and he certainly has his better and worse moments, days and even weeks. From what I can tell, as a man diagnosed in July of 2001 and who is 65 years old, he seems to be ahead of the curve (in other words, he can still drive --which obviously means a lot to him-- and he can still play golf -- which, less obviously, means a lot to him). I believe a lot of his health has to do with his willing attitude (he doesn't just take the pills given to him, he explores other treatments, even "experimental" ones, on his own), his work/play ethic (he plays golf a few times a week, works out at a gym and does yoga) and positive attitude.

So why did you take on this trip?

My dad first presented the idea of going to see all the ballparks together back in 1990. I was in college at San Diego State at the time. As a sports fiend (I studied Journalism in college and had an idea of being an ESPN anchor back then), I thought it was a great idea. We went to seven parks over two years (one brief trip where we hit Tiger, Old Milwaukee, Comiskey and Wrigley and another where we hit the Vet, Yankee and Fenway). After that, though, life got busy. I graduated. Dad retired, but was more active than ever and we swore we'd get back to it. Flash forward to his diagnosis (2001). That got us thinking. Flash Forward to 2004 and me re-watching "Field of Dreams". I unexpectedly bawled my eyes out (in context) and the idea came to me then.

You did an amazing amount of driving, what was the longest city to city drive?

Longest single day drive was Oakland to Seattle (overnight, actually).

Which was your favorite park?

We both agreed on Fenway. It's just classic.

Best food?

We didn't really eat a lot of ballpark food. We talked about doing that kind of comparison, but our schedules were so strange and we were on quite a limited budget. For instance, Clif Bar donated energy bars to us and that pretty much was our breakfast every day. We tried to get lunch and dinner donated everywhere we went and did pretty well with that.

Best beer?

We both like beer (though I don't think my dad drinks anymore in an effort to keep his remaining brain cells doing all they can!) but, again, the budget didn't really allow for many suds.

Anything nice to say about Rogers Center and/or Toronto?

We were fortunate enough to have some very good friends who live in Toronto make some room for us at their house. They took us out on their boat (can't remember the lake's name...very pretty). Rogers (still the Sky Dome in 2004?) was cool, though neither Dad nor I like that turf much. Watching the dome open was nice. The CN tower is awesome as a backdrop. The Jays were very kind to let us down on the field before the game to get a closer look. We got to play a game of catch in foul territory -- a great experience.

Anything else you'd like to say about your movie?

I hope people will give it a look. It's father and son, baseball and road tripping. It's realizing a dream. It's the passing of the proverbial torch. It's funny in many places, largely because my dad has a great sense of humor. It's not at all a downer. It's hopeful and inspirational. 100% of the proceeds from this sale of the film are going to the Michael J Fox Foundation.

Please recognize it for what it is: the lowest of low budget productions ("no-budget" as the trendy indies like to say when the budgets are this small). It's just basically my dad and I running around with a camera for the most part. That being said, I am a professional filmmaker (have a few other credits at imdb.com and teach at the local Art Institute), so I don't mean to say it lacks artistic value. Just remember it's a doc done on the ultra cheap so please don't compare the look or tech aspects of it to anything you've seen outside of a smaller film fest (where we did have some success). For reference sake, as if you didn't know, the Toronto Film Fest is definitely NOT small...).

Me again: the film sounds great fun, I'm going to order the DVD after we get back from our trip. I've often thought about trying to make a trip like that but life/kids and all would make it impossible. And taking my dad? Well, he isn't a big baseball fan and by about day 5 the trip would end in a fiery accident. Not that I don't love my father, but him, me, a car and multiple hotel rooms would be pushing the limits of that love. I think I'll be happy to see most of the ballparks, one or two at a time over a lifetime.