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Film Review: The Last Out
by Karen Pecota

Filmed over more than four years filmmakers Sami Khan and Michael Gassert direct and produce a gripping documentary about Cuban baseball players' dreams to become an American Baseball star in The Last Out. A journey filled with heartache and pain is not expected from these young Cuban athletes nor their families. Khan and Gassert share, "Cuban ballplayers are among baseball's brightest stars but they can't just sign out of Cuba to pursue a career in the American leagues. The U.S. Embargo is still in place so Cubans have to leave their homeland, often under dangerous circumstances and establish residency in a third Country like The Dominican Republic, Haiti or Costa Rica."

Khan and Gassert portray the promises and lies from baseball agents that is beyond criminal. Posing as agents looking out for the best interest of their client is not the reality in this portrayal. Why? Because it's all about money. The athletes who are sought after and then chosen by the agent bring their proven talent and youthfulness to the table but then agent has to do the rest to get them signed when scouts come calling. But, there are a lot of hoops to jump through in this process.

Money to be made by agents is phenomenal if they sign a client to the American baseball organization...first starting in the minor leagues working hard toward a chance at the big league. One problem is that greed enters into the dynamics of the negotiations. The agents will hold out for too high a price range and then scouts stop calling. One of the many issues is that a player can't wait too many years to be signed before their prime dwindles. The window of opportunity is not as wide as one might believe. We will see in The Last Out that discouragement sets-in with the players after years of working hard and living in a country not their own only to experience empty promises. When they have had enough their life choices take on a whole new direction.

Khan and Gassert follow three young Cuban baseball players Happy Oliveros, Carlos O. González, and Victor Baró, who leave their families and homeland (risking exile), to train in Central America and chase their dreams to play in the Major Leagues. Khan and Gassert explain, "Our film has a special resonance with Cubans and other migrants who have first-hand experience with the journeys our film chronicles." Adding, "At a time when immigrants are under constant attack by powerful institutions, we feel an important duty to champion their stories."

These three Cuban ballplayers featured in The Last Out are among their country's best athletes. All three come to baseball camp in Costa Rica via different routes. The journey to follow their dream is one of heroism that only comes from within making their road to freedom incredibly powerful. Each narrative is unforgettable!

Happy Oliveros is outfielder with incredible speed. Happy's father (also nicknamed Happy) is a legendary baseball coach and physical trainer, known throughout Latin America.

Carlos O. González was a formidable starting pitcher in the Serie Nacional for five years. He dominated some of Cuba's toughest hitters and pitched alongside New York Yankees' fireballer Aroldis Chapman.

Victor Baró is the grandnephew of Hall of Famer Tony Perez. He comes from a long line of elite ballplayers. Baró was a closer in the Serie Nacional, known for his fastball and devoting slider.