In the “On Deck” circle: Alex Bentley
Alex Bentley says that from a very young age he knew he was going to do two things in life: 1) play baseball, and 2) make films. He stands on the cusp of bringing his two passions together.
Bentley has produced and directed On Deck, a scripted series that depicts minor league ballplayers on their journey to the majors. Bentley is currently approaching television networks, streaming services, and acquisition agents about his show.
On Deck shows the realities of playing baseball in all of its complexities and layers. The lead character faces the end of his playing career and struggles to figure out what comes next in his life.
The show also tackles changes and emerging issues facing the game. One of the plotlines involves a performance-enhancing “full body sleeve” developed by the team’s analytics coach. The device garners the attention and scrutiny of the MLB Commissioner’s office.
Looking ahead, Bentley’s vision for the second season includes what he describes as “two strong female leads – a love interest and a badass in the baseball business world.”
In addition to an experienced cast of actors, Bentley has lined up an impressive array of cameo appearances for On Deck. Among those planned to make appearances are Fernando Tatis Jr., Adam Jones, Scott Boras, Harold Reynolds, and Jennie Finch.
How did a 27-year old filmmaker with a rather modest IMDb resume convince the Padres’ most talked-about, emerging superstar to join the On Deck project? Surely there were agents, lawyers, and other layers between Bentley and Tatis, right? That’s a reasonable assumption, but not at all how it went down.
After pursuing a few connections to Tatis that didn’t pan out, Bentley decided to simply step into the batter’s box and take his best hack.
I didn’t want to be some random on Instagram reaching out [to Tatis]. But that’s actually what it ended up being. I shot him a message, explained the project, the vision I had for his role … then I got that DM back from him a week later: ‘I’m listening.’Bentley, explaining Tatis signing on to the project; The Deep Friar podcast hosted by Javier Olvera, 9/23/20
I asked Bentley for his thoughts on baseball films in general and in what ways On Deck will be the same or different.
For every good baseball movie there are five that suck. Most of the baseball-oriented shows and movies Hollywood has put out in the past have been so corny and inauthentic. It’s insulting to people whose lives revolve around it.
My vision for the show is an authentic look into the baseball world that has never been seen in a scripted series format like this before. The theme and tone will resemble shows like “Entourage” and “Ballers.“
It will uplift and inspire athletes still playing, but more importantly, athletes who have retired from the game they have invested their entire lives into — and who may now feel a loss of purpose or identity transitioning into life without the game.Alex Bentley TKF interview, 2/5/21
Alex Bentley: his backstory
Bentley describes himself as a lifelong, diehard Padres fan who grew up in San Diego and loving baseball from as far back as his memories take him. He says Moneyball and The Rookie are his favorite baseball movies, but he gives honorable mentions to Sugar, Million Dollar Arm and (for sentimental reasons) Rookie of the Year.
Favorite movie – for childhood sake, growing up at Casey’s Place in San Carlos, watching “Rookie of the Year” once a week with all the baseball kids there.
I cried driving by Qualcomm last week. All the memories. Klesko bat flips, Rickey Henderson hitting my father in the chest with a ball, the palm trees in the outfield, Tony’s last hit as a Padre, Khalil’s debut, Peavy’s first strikeout, Kotsay/Loretta/Nevin at the top of the order, and best memories of all — running around the stadium with the Pad Squad holding the Padres flag while Hells Bells played during “Trevor Time” … and playing catch with my father in the parking lot, especially on Father’s Day.Alex Bentley TKF interview, 2/5/21
Bentley lived in San Diego until he was 11 years old, when he moved to Israel with his mother to reside in an Orthodox Jewish community.
The cultural transition was dramatic. Keeping up with the Padres was challenging, given that the community had no television or radio. He would sometimes sneak into an area that had an Internet connection to check on baseball scores. He missed the voices of his youth (Jerry Coleman and Ted Leitner), but he managed to keep up with how the Padres were doing.
Listen here to “Oh Doctor,” a song Bentley wrote after Coleman’s passing.
While in Israel, Bentley continued to find ways to play baseball, in spite of the barren practice fields in his neighborhood that were nothing like the manicured Little League ballparks of his childhood.
At age 17, Bentley returned to the States to live with his father. He attended McQueen High School in Reno, Nevada, and played catcher on the baseball squad. In 2012, his team fell one game shy of a state title, losing to Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas). Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo hit a ball for Bishop Gorman in the game that, according to Bentley, “still hasn’t landed.”
Bentley was a grinder, playing through two broken wrists during his junior year yet still managing to hit a playoff home run. He was in so much pain that he wasn’t able to high-five his coach as he rounded the bases.
After high school, Bentley played for San Diego City College and the University of Saint Katherine in San Marcos, California.
Between 2017 and 2020, Bentley played pro ball for teams in Mexico and Germany. He has also played on multiple Israel National Teams.
Bentley has brought the same work ethic, passion, and determination to his pursuits in the entertainment industry. His acting credits include roles in the action film Beckman (2020; Amazon Video, iTunes) and as a Padre in Pitch, Fox TV’s 2016 television series set in San Diego.
Bentley has also worked in various positions in film production and videography. He is fluent in English, Spanish (conversationally), and Hebrew.
As noted above, Bentley’s On Deck series is not yet available for viewing. However, given the interest the project has drawn and the marquee names from baseball who have signed on, it’s likely just a matter of time before the series finds a home and audience.
While interviewing Bentley about On Deck‘s plotlines, I asked him if there was any sort of love story included. “Of course,” he said.
On Deck *is* a love story — between a player and his love for the game.Alex Bentley TKF interview, 2/5/21