"Pioneers of the Pacific"  is an independent documentary film by crackerjack filmmaker Kirk Findlay.  Spanning over a century of baseball history in Portland and the Pacific Coast, this captivating film offers something for everyone. With unprecedented access and untold stories, Findlay delves deep into the lives of players, coaches, and fans, unveiling their hidden narratives and showcasing how the triumphs of championship teams contributed to the growth and prosperity of their cities.

Beyond the game, Findlay sheds light on the social fabric of the time, examining the challenges of segregation and integration, as well as the relentless spirit and resilience displayed by individuals and teams in the face of personal and natural adversities. 

By identifying unsung heroes, inventive minds, and visionary characters, Findlay showcases the rich heritage of Portland's baseball legacy, evoking pride in both its vibrant community and the cherished teams of yesteryear.
Longtime radio voice Bob Blackburn recreates games, Jim Turner’s colorful Ducks team of 1929, and Portland Pioneer and hero Frank Warren. Rare film archives taken over a century ago from Heppner, Oregon, Mayor Baker’s opening day pitch of 1927, the Hollywood Hankie Wave, and the 61-game hitting streak of Joe Dimaggio in the Coast League to the renegade Mavericks team of the 1970s, and the film delivers the definitive history of baseball on the West Coast. 


Legendary coach Walter McCredie turned down MLB after winning five pennants in nine years, and Bill Sweeney led the 1936 title team. Portland’s “Lucky” Beavers of 1945 and famous pitching staff of 1964 Louis Tiant, Sam McDowell, and Tommy John. Stars like sweet Lou Piniella, Eddie Basinski, Ad Liska, and Artie Wilson. Legendary Vaughn Street Park to Multnomah Civic Stadium served as sanctuaries for blue-collar neighborhoods after two World Wars.

What was Kirk's MOTIVATION?
Growing up in The Northwest playing baseball, we didn’t have a Major League Baseball team to follow. Seattle had the Rainers, and Portland was home to the Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. But those teams had players just one phone call away from the Big Leagues, and many future stars developed, so the competition was outstanding, and watching ball games was a big thrill during summer. Fast forward to my career in TV and film after college, and getting news that the Portland Beavers would be leaving town for Salt Lake City, I made a documentary about the team and approached KOIN-TV to assist me. To my surprise, they agreed, and I had only three months to complete an hour-long feature on my hometown team. So “Farewell Portland Beavers” aired on CBS after game two of the World Series and was a success, personally and in the ratings. Fast forward again to 2018 as Portland campaigned for an MLB team, and the idea of producing a complete history of baseball in Oregon was born.
ALFRED LAWSON: Among the most unique characters to play in the Northwest was Alfred W. Lawson. In 1891, he pitched for Spokane, Pendleton, and Oakland! He played for 21 teams in the minor leagues and two Major League games. He published FLY magazine from 1908-1914. An aviation pioneer, he built America’s first airliner and founded the Lawson Aircraft Corporation in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He made the 26-passenger Midnight Liner that crashed on takeoff on its maiden flight. He developed his economic theories and eventually founded his university! Lawsonomy, as he called it, ultimately became a "legal" religion that some called a cult.
Some of our star players!

Frankie Austin was one of the first to break the color barrier in Portland.

Lou Piniella spent 3-years in Portland before heading to Major League Baseball as a star player and coach.

I immediately started researching the documentary, which would be a sequel of sorts. My research into the archives and complete history of Portland Baseball included long hours at the public library and the Oregon Historical Society downtown. I dug deep in 1866 when the Portland Pioneers formed the region's first organized team. I read all the books about baseball in The West and sorted through tons of microfilm for news articles about players, teams, and games of the 1800s and the 20th Century. The photo and film archives were crucial to put pictures and film together with interviews to tell the story. Months of digging into photos, scrapbooks, and film continued in Portland and Seattle.

The University of Washington housed a unique collection of archive media from Seattle, Tacoma, and Spokane baseball teams, all competing against Portland, first in the Northwest League, then in the Pacific Coast League. I was thrilled to find an actual film of The 1925 Aberdeen Blackcats in action, along with other movies and pictures documenting baseball in the Northwest. I could hardly believe my eyes as the 35mm film had crowd shots, city views, AND games. 
I didn’t want to do a “Jocks in Socks” type sports documentary; I wanted to include the events that shaped the Northwest, from the Klondike Gold Rush to the Lewis & Clark World’s Fair and the first-ever road race from New York City to Portland, Oregon! 
The Rose Festivals, building of Timberline Lodge, and all the science and growth that fueled America’s Pastime… Baseball! So the research into pictures, old programs, and box scores suddenly turned to find films from the vaults of museums, players' home movies, and Pathe newsreel, which captured the opening day of Vaughn Street Park 1926. And the list goes on, as research turned into looking online, now the pandemic had halted work and play. 
But I had enough to build a treatment, then rough-script to the final copy. The editing began, and two years later, I have a two-hour film (122 minutes) I’ve edited into a ‘director's cut.”

Deep Dive into the ARCHIVES
Currently, we have a fiscal sponsorship via From the Heart Productions for donations for our film! The donation button is on our Trailer page. You may receive a tax deduction for your donation!

With your contributions, we can reach that goal, complete this film, and preserve baseball history in Portland and the Northwest for the first time. The director's cut will be saved for diehard baseball fans to view, along with the theatrical version. With some of the creative community on pause, content for quality original movies and shows is in HIGH demand. Please help us complete this journey, which began nearly five years ago. You can bring baseball to Oregon and the world…  through the eyes of those who played, coached, and watched our Beavers, Mavericks, Browns, and Webfeet. Together, the story of baseball in Rose City and Northwest will be guaranteed FOREVER!

Please check out our campaign page, and we would appreciate it if you could make any donations! Thanks for all your help!

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