Filmmaker Richard Linklater's feature films have often debuted in prestigious film festivals and venues, from Sundance to Cannes, but he's trying something different with his first documentary feature. After a splashy premiere in Austin last week, Inning by Inning: A Portrait of a Coach will be released ... not in theaters, but on a cable sports channel. You can watch the film on ESPN2 or ESPN2 HD at 10:00 pm EST on Sunday, June 15.

Inning by Inning
is a profile of Augie Garrido, considered one of the "winningest" coaches in NCAA baseball. The film focuses on the 69-year-old coach's most recent seasons with the Texas Longhorns team. Linklater and his crew were given access to the team from 2005-2006, and it's fascinating to see personal, almost intimate moments when Garrido talks to the college players one-on-one, or as a team. Linklater had originally set out to make a documentary about the Longhorns' back-to-back winning seasons (2004-2005), but said (in a Q&A after the film's press screening) that he became interested in Garrido's coaching techniques and shifted the film's focus accordingly. Interviews with former Texas and Cal State-Fullerton players coached by Garrido, and other sports figures like Darrell Royal and Roger Clemens (Kevin Costner appears briefly too), round out the documentary.

The above photo is from the Inning by Inning premiere in Austin, which was packed with Longhorn fans. Linklater and producer Brian Franklin aren't flashing gang signs, but the "Hook 'Em Horns" sign. I attended the press screening earlier in the day, where we saw a slightly different version of the documentary -- Garrido's almost lyrical streams of profanity weren't bleeped out for television. This is the version that would appear on a DVD, if/when one is forthcoming, as Linklater hopes. Franklin has created an entire second documentary with a "fly on the wall" look at the Longhorns' 2006 season, and the filmmakers also cut together an hour of unused footage, so a DVD package seems like a no-brainer. Naturally, Longhorn baseball lovers would leap at that, but I think Inning by Inning is worth a look even if you don't care much about sports. I'm not into baseball at all, but Garrido is fascinating to watch at work.

[Photo courtesy of Austin Film Society. Used with permission (thanks!).]