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Runs, Flicks, and Errors…

24 February 2016 Views From The Booth

spring trainingGreetings from a very soggy booth this week! With Spring Training underway and Oscars weekend on the horizon, I thought I would combine two of my passions: movies and baseball; and list some of my favorite baseball flicks.

Before we get to that, a nod to Shenandoah University head baseball coach Kevin Anderson, who reached the 500-win plateau this past weekend in a sweep of Case Western Reserve. Kevin garnered 147 of those victories at D-1 James Madison, before putting the Hornets on the map with 2 trips to the NCAA Division III World Series. Congrats, Kevin, and here’s to 500 more!

Now, in no particular order, 5 of my favorite movies about baseball…

The Natural: I think what I like most about this movie is the cinematography, the way the film captures the “feel” of our National Pastime in 1939. The great Robert Redford is wonderful as the mysterious Roy Hobbs, who makes a baseball comeback late in his athletic life to lead the dreadful New York Knights to the pennant. The casting is first-rate, with Robert Duvall, Glenn Close, and Darren McGavin in supporting roles. The end is a bit cheesy, with exploding light standards, etc., but doesn’t diminish my love for this movie.

Field of Dreams: “Build it, and they will come” is the message that Kevin Costner’s character hears over and over in his head, and decides to turn his Iowa cornfield into a baseball diamond, so that Shoeless Joe Jackson can come back and play ball. One of my favorite parts is the “story within the story” of Moonlight Graham. Also moving is Ray (Costner) longing to have a catch with his dad. How can this movie not be on your list?

Major League: Bob Uecker steals the show as the play-by-play man of the lowly Cleveland Indians (“Just a bit outside…”) as they try to succeed despite the owner’s desire to move the team. With each win, this hapless bunch peels off a piece of clothing from a cardboard stand-up of the owner. The bespectacled “Wild Thing” (Charlie Sheen) out of the bullpen, Tom Berringer as the grizzled veteran catcher, and slugger Cerrano practicing Santeria in front of his locker with a bucket of KFC are all classic images.

The Rookie: This has become one of my favorite baseball movies, and is based on the true story of a Texas high school coach who in a younger life had his dreams of becoming a major league pitcher derailed. Upon the urging of his players, he attends a tryout and gets a shot in the minors, and finally makes “the show.” The killer scene for me is when Jim Morris (played by Dennis Quaid) finds his wife(Rachel Griffiths) before his major league debut and hops up on a bench to share the moment with her. It’s a “second chance” story that gets me every time.

A League of Their Own: “There’s no crying in baseball!” Directed by Penny Marshall, this film has been preserved by the Library of Congress, and is the tale of the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, created in the 40’s when WWII threatened to shut down the majors. The cast is fantastic, with Tom Hanks as drunken manager Jimmy Dugan, Geena Davis, and Madonna leading the way. If the end scene of the surviving members of the AAGPBL playing ball, and Madonna’s song “This Used To Be My Playground” don’t grab you, you better check your pulse…

There are so many others worthy of the list, like “42”, “Bull Durham”, “Eight Men Out”, and “Bad News Bears.” Like any list, it is subjective, and of course you have your own favorites. Enjoy the Oscars, your favorite baseball movies, and don’t forget the popcorn!

That’s another Views From The Booth! Play Ball…and GO HORNETS!

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