Grant Curtis has spent most of his professional life telling stories. Big stories. Fun stories. Superhero stories.
So when Curtis, a Warrensburg native and the producer behind such films as “Spiderman” and “Oz: The Great and Powerful”, had an opportunity to tell a story about baseball and the origins of the “Star Spangled Banner,” he jumped at the chance. For the son of a Vietnam veteran and a lifelong Royals fan, it seemed like a natural fit.
Curtis, a graduate of both Mizzou and Central Missouri, has produced a short film on the first time “The Star Spangled Banner” was played at a sporting event — Game 1 of the 1918 World Series, when the series was moved up to September to accommodate active players World War I. The three-minute story will debut Saturday during the National World War I Museum Night at Kauffman Stadium.
“This is the genesis,” said Curtis, whose brother, Lance, and sister-in-law have served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. “This is where the national anthem was birthed.”
The story begins during the seventh-inning stretch of Game 1 of the 1918 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, when a military band began a spontaneous rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” — not yet the official national anthem.
Curtis, a long-time collaborator with decorated Hollywood director Sam Raimi, has roots in the Kansas City sports scene. His first real job out of college — before all the Hollywood success — was with the Kansas City Blades hockey team in the mid ‘90s. On Friday, he returned to town to tour the National World War I Museum. And on Saturday, Curtis will throw out the first pitch at Kauffman Stadium, alongside Matthew Naylor, the president and CEO of the World War I Museum, and Thomas Butch, the CEO of Waddell & Reed.
“This is a world-class museum,” Curtis said. “How do we get people down to Kansas City and look at these great stories and memorabilia? How can we drive traffic and allow these narratives to be heard.
“Maybe it’s by telling one of these stories.”
To reach Rustin Dodd, send email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/rustindodd.