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04/23/2009 12:20 PM ET
Dominican actor returns to Modern Woodmen Park to meet fans

On Friday, the Quad Cities will host a series of events surrounding the premiere of the movie "Sugar," which stars Algenis Perez Soto and details the story of a pitcher born in the Dominican Republic and embarking on a journey through the American minor leagues.

Saturday, Soto will return to the site where most of the baseball scenes were filmed - Modern Woodmen Park. Perez will be on hand for the River Bandits 6:00 p.m. game against the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers to mingle with fans, sign autographs, throw out the first pitch and enjoy a night's festivities that includes a live post-game concert by JAIGURU on a Rockin' Saturday Night.

"Not only are we proud to say that most of 'Sugar' was filmed in our ballpark, we are extremely pleased that the Quad Cities was able to benefit from such an experience," said team owner Dave Heller. "We hope the recognition that this movie is receiving helps bring more films to the Quad Cities. And we are thrilled for our fans to be able to spend the night hanging out with the star of a major motion picture! Modern Woodmen Park is a perfect location for baseball movies, and we hope that 'Sugar' is the first of many to be filmed here."

The 25-year-old Soto was cast as the lead in the movie "Sugar" despite never having previously acted. The native of the Dominican Republic was an aspiring baseball player, much like the character he portrays, but had given up the dream of becoming a professional athlete and found himself working in a hotel when filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden found him on a softball field in his hometown of San Pedro de Macoris. Now, Soto is working hard to use acting - instead of baseball - as a means to make a name for himself in the United States.

"It's not just the setting of the movie 'Sugar' that will be familiar to our fans," said River Bandits Vice President and General Manager Kirk Goodman. "The story is replicated on the field at Modern Woodmen Park every single night. The obstacles that young Latin players overcome just to get to the United States are numerous and, at times, daunting. The effort and determination they show to pursue their dreams are both admirable and inspirational. And when one of them makes it to the major leagues, it's one of the greatest stories around!"

"Sugar" will premiere in the Quad Cities on Friday night to critical acclaim. The story of Miguel "Sugar" Santos, a 19-year-old pitching prodigy going through the cultural shock of minor league baseball in Iowa, was given 3-1/2 stars by Roger Ebert on his website. In his review, Ebert praises the film for avoiding the conventional route and providing a well-researched account of a Dominican baseball player's journey, concluding his review by simply stating, "This is a wonderful film."

UP NEXT: The River Bandits continue their road series in Beloit with game three of a four-game set on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. They will be back at Modern Woodmen Park for a seven-game homestand that begins on Saturday with a live post-game performance by JAIGURU on a Rockin' Saturday that will also be Big Brothers, Big Sisters Night and a Salute to Plumbers, with first pitch scheduled for 6:00 p.m. A U.S. Bank Family Sunday follows in which families will be invited down to the field for Family Photo Day. Monday will be an 11:00 a.m. Book Buddies Day while an Economic Stimulus Tuesday features 2-for-1 tickets, FREE dinner for kids 12 and under and a Snakes on a Field theme in honor of the visiting Wisconsin Timber Rattlers!

ABOUT THE BANDITS: Under new ownership and management in 2008, the Quad Cities River Bandits topped 207,000 fans for only the sixth time in team history and the first time in 12 years. Having recently completed one of the most successful seasons in the history of the franchise - and with a renewed dedication to fans, sponsors and the Quad Cities community - the return of the River Bandits has brought a resurgence of support for the team. BanditWear, season tickets and mini-plans, and individual game tickets are on sale for the 2009 season by calling (563) 3-BANDIT or heading to But hurry - good seats are going fast!

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.