Review by Dan Skip Allen
Major League sports are a dream for kids all of the world and in the United States. The dream of playing a professional sport is attainable if one puts in the hard work and the cards fall in their favor. The pyramid of sports is an idea that everybody starts at the bottom and works their way to the top. Those that make it to the top are the few and in between. It's not easy to make it to the top in any field, let alone the field (or court) of sports. The Last Out focuses on three aspiring Cuban baseball players who are trying to achieve their dreams of becoming a player in the MLB.
Sami Khan and Michael Gassert are the writers/directors of The Last Out. They chose to focus their cameras on three Cuban baseball players, Victor Baro, Carlos O. Gonzalez, and Happy Oliveros, to document their journey from the communist country of Cuba to Costa Rica and beyond. Two are pitchers and one is a position player and hitter. With the help of an ostracized sports agent, Gus Dominguez, they hope to achieve the American dream of being a major league ballplayer.
Cuba is a country where baseball is a huge deal. The problem is young aspiring ballplayers can't make it in their home country because of socialism. They can't get rich playing ball in Cuba, so they go elsewhere to make their dream come true, like the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Costa Rica. These kids turned adults have to work extremely hard just to get tryouts and showcases for scouts. It's not a sure thing they will get signed for a contract either. They have a two-year window to achieve their goal or it's all but over for them.
Some give up after trying for a while and others keep fighting for a while. It all depends on how much they want to succeed. The film shows these three guys and all the levels of what they have to go through for success. Success could just be coming to America for a new life or it could be settling for playing a lesser form of baseball still fighting for the dream of becoming an MLB ballplayer. In the back of their heads, they want to provide for their families as well.
The filmmakers show all aspects of the dream of escaping communism and trying to make it as a successful athlete, the highs and lows of trying to achieve their goal, and the toll it takes on them physically and mentally. These three men prove examples of how hard it is to be a professional athlete. Not everybody can get to the top of the pyramid and those that do have had a tough journey. The dream of Cubans trying to make it on MLB is a long one. Some succeed, but most fizzle out and go off into obscurity. Of course, the Guses of the world will keep trying to develop new prospects and sell them on that dream.
The Last Out is now streaming as a part of the 2020 DOC NYC festival, which ran November 11-19, 2020, and is participating in encore screenings from November 20-29.