Documentary Filmmaker and Director, Set Apart: The Jim Abbott Story; When Elephants Fight (available on Netflix); among others
May 15, 2019 (Segment 3)
A serious film director and a man dedicated to telling serious stories that matter, Mike also has diverse interests that run the gamut from history to sports. This flexibility led to him making a particularly spectacular film that really only he could do. That film, Set Apart: The Jim Abbott Story, documents the story of a fellow Flintstone and Flint Central alum Jimmy Abbott, and how he parlayed being born with only one hand in to a spectacular career as a baseball pitcher.
That career included CANUSA (The international Canada vs. USA sister city tournament) stardom, Little League no hitters, a stellar career at Flint Whittier Junior High and Flint Central High schools, legendary status on the University of Michigan baseball team, and a straight to the Major League trajectory that skipped the minors and put him on track for a run at the CY Young award, baseballs most coveted award for pitchers, with the California Angels. Abbotts career hit the apex with a no- hitter for the New York Yankees, while wearing the pinstripes in Yankee Stadium. Along the way Jim nearly led the Flint Central football team to a Michigan High School Football State Championship...as the quarterback.
Capturing all of this in film was no easy task, but again Ramsdell was the right man for the job. Growing up in Flint and attending Central (albeit years after Abbott) gave him a unique perspective and led to a particularly close relationship with Jim. Beyond that he also had the experience that led to being able to craft an accessible visual narrative given the gravitas of his previous work which includes Anatomy of Hate, and When Elephants Fight, a film that garnered a host of awards and recognition including being a primary and official selection at the United Nations Association Film Festival, The Montreal World Film Festival, The Bermuda International Film Festival, The Edinburgh International Film Festival, and the Winner for “Best Foreign Film” at the HumanDoc International Film Festival.
Now Mike is engaged in a campaign to raise awareness, support, and perpetuate the Flint CANUSA and Flint Olympian Games. Working closely with the Crim Fitness Foundation, he hopes to help solidify this incredible 61 year legacy of athletic and international competition and interaction for future generations. It’s no surprise that he has chosen a cause of particular and personal significance to get behind. It’s the kind of unique dedication, commitment to forward progress, and resilience Flintstones have deployed for decades. True to form, he has big ideas, big goals and really big vision for the project.
The Jim Abbott Story premiered in late 2018 to great critical acclaim, and it certainly made Flintstones everywhere proud of their city, and both of their native sons in Ramsdell and Abbott. In fact, Ramsdell screened the premiere on ESPN while sitting at El Toro’s bar with a host of old Flint friends, and a few of Abbott's coaches and teammates. Talk about a tough crowd! But to no one’s surprise the film captured the spirit, energy and simple magnificence of what it took to turn catastrophe in to victory. In the end, that’s really the real gift of Flintstones in Flint, and expatriates alike. It’s a wide ranging and thoroughly entertaining discussion about these topics and more on “Fish and The Flint Chronicles”.