Jake Fine documentary highlights OPRF baseball


Calvin Roe, Staffer

Every kid in Oak Park is introduced to baseball growing up. On a typical spring day, players practice from the bumpy grasses of Euclid Park to the bouncy turf at Ridgeland with one common goal: play for OPRF at the varsity level.

Jake Fine grew up in this culture, playing in the town’s Shetland league and then on to Pony baseball at Linberg Park.

“My first passion was always baseball, to make it to the MLB,” he says.

During junior year, Fine turned away from baseball and chose not to try out for varsity.

“I kinda fell out of love with playing baseball and fell in love with filming,” he says. “I was honeymooning vlogging and thought I would skip college to pursue a YouTube career.”

Fast forwarding to his senior year, a baseball player asked Fine to create a hype video for OPRF’s varsity squad.

“Zach Silverman asked me to do the hype video, which was later shown in the Little Theatre at one of the spring baseball events,” he recalls.

The coaches offered a manager position to Fine, making the job videography-based as opposed to carrying equipment.

Fine recorded practices and games, trying to capture small moments to illustrate the team’s character. “I thought to myself that it would be cool to turn this footage that I have from lifting in November to the end of the season into a documentary,” he says.

About two weeks into the season, Fine came to the coaches with his idea of filming the team.

“It was originally going to be him keeping our social media accounts up to date,” says varsity coach Kevin Campbell, “but he decided to take more of a documentary approach.”

Before the documentary’s showing on Jan. 5, Fine further pursued his videography skills during a “gap year.” Through the networking of personal trainer and former OPRF teacher Danny Cola, Fine worked with fitness influencers and gym owners in the Chicago area.

“When he hung out with other personal trainers, he would bring me along. I would create footage for them and they ended up being clients,” says Fine.

With his freelance videographing on the rise, he founded Thooosi Productions and teamed up with another OPRF graduate, Ava Lessin. The two set up the baseball documentary to be shown at Lake Theatre, selling over 250 tickets for the event.

“I started to realize when people started to respond that this was like a reunion,” Fine said. “I talked to Danny, and he said his wedding didn’t have that many people.”

On the night of the event, everyone involved with OPRF baseball was there: nearly all the seniors on last year’s team, coaches from all program levels and underclassmen getting a glimpse of OPRF baseball.

“To see not only last year’s seniors but people from even before then just shows how much people care about the OPRF baseball program,” says Campbell.

After the showing, Fine, Lessin, Silverman, and Adam Landsman answered questions on a panel.

“Everyone knows that baseball is huge in the Oak Park community,” said Silverman. “It’s way bigger than playing baseball.”

Even after the documentary and panel discussion, Lake Theatre was jam-packed in the hallway, filled with players reminiscing about their playoff run.

“I noticed how much art has to do with bringing people together,” said Fine. “It has refocused my mission.”