Baseball at the Movies
What could be better than watching baseball in person, sitting in the standings, eating a hotdog, and drinking a cold one?
Well, maybe watching one of the great baseball movies that have been made through the years is better simply because you get to enjoy the drama of the game over and over again, whether you win, lose, or get rained out.
Who could ever forget this scene from "A League of Their Own" - the historical film about the women's baseball league that carried American fans through World War II when all the men were off fighting in Europe and the South Pacific? The only game available was filled with girls - and all that comes along with girls.
A League of Their Own
Some don't even have to make it to The Show, the major leagues, to make their mark on the world of movies. The minor leagues were immortalized in "Bull Durham" - the story of a bonus-baby rookie and a veteran of a dozen years, both trying to make their dreams come true in the bus league.
Is professional baseball all about the money? "Jerry Maguire" might yell "Show me the money!" but in "MoneyBall" it's all about winning all the way to the last game of the year. Otherwise, as Billy Beane so eloquently phrases it, "Nobody gives a shit."
Even those lucky few who not only make it to The Show, but enjoy long, illustrious careers, have to one day face the inevitable fact that it's over. Their day in the sun has come to an end. It's no easier at the age of 40 than it is at 18. "For Love of the Game" showed us how to go out in style.
For Love of the Game
There is also a lesson to be learned by the number of baseball movies that poignantly show us there is also courage in the struggle, no matter what the final outcome. "Major League" showed us both sides of the coin once again: the rookie with the bright future and the old-timer trying to hang on to just one more season.
"What might have been" is the most haunting question in any life. Many films have dealt with those dreams that "brush past you like a stranger in a crowd."
"Field of Dreams" and "The Natural" deal with the issue of whether you are good enough to make your dream come true or whether you are lucky enough.
Field of Dreams
Then there was the day in the annals of baseball when some of the best athletes who ever played the game did the unthinkable: chose to lose. Why would anyone ever stoop so low when entrusted with the great American past time? "Eight Men Out" will try to make you believe it could only happen decades ago when the country was in the throes of a great depression, and unscrupulous men ruled the game. If only that were so, Joe.
Eight Men Out
For all my efforts I couldn't find a clip of any of my favorite scenes from "The Rookie". The one I really wanted was (Dennis Quaid) the coach's try out with the major league scouts when he was also changing diapers because he had his kids right there with him. The only clip I did find was this one when the challenge is made by his high school players for him to take a dose of his own medicine and not give up on his dream - all these years later. Hubbers should remember this challenge as well - every day.
Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
How many football movies can you name? How about basketball? Soccer? Water Polo? Have I made my point?
There is hardly a point of view about the experience of playing the American Past time that has not been memorialized on the big screen. From the mid February reporting dates for spring training all the way through the fall play-offs to Halloween's final series, baseball is with us on a daily basis. And if that doesn't satisfy your craving for the baseball fix, buy yourself some peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and thanks to modern technology, settle in with one of your favorite movies whenever baseball fever strikes you.