Tuesday, September 27, 2011

End of Season

Baseball is one of the few team sports that I can relate to. I wonder if it has anything to do with my Dad?  He was so much older than me I don't remember him really playing with me much, but I'll bet he must have tossed a baseball at me now and then. Or maybe he did with my older sisters and they passed on the favour?  I know my Dad used to play ball, and he must have been a good player too.  I know he got a job once because the company needed a new player for their team.  Weren't those the days! 
I used to watch my oldest sister's husband play ball.  He was the pitcher -- a very important position.  Somehow I got the feeling he pitched better when I wasn't there. Was I so distracting or was it only my imagination?  All I know is that I missed seeing most of his best games!
Anyway, I always loved to play.  The neighbourhood kids would get together and play "Scrub". It was a type of baseball game with as many players as you could round up. From 3 players up to any number (the extras were just fielders).  The players rotated positions as soon as someone struck out so that everyone eventually had a turn at being the pitcher and the batter, well -- at every position, really.  It was a great way to learn how to play, and very fair too!

I wasn't very good at organized sports, baseball included.  I was a good batter, and a great runner.  I wasn't a good catcher! It took me until grade 6 to discover I needed glasses. By then I had learned to be afraid of the ball.  (I never knew where it was coming from!)  As for throwing a baseball... well that was just sad!  Because of my lack of skill in catching, I always got stuck in the outfield.  But there was no way I could throw that ball home.  Luckily I was a fast runner, so what I had to do was throw, and run and throw it again! (Pathetic really!)

But as poor a player as I may have been, I still enjoyed playing the game.Which reminds me of a baseball song by Kenny Rogers in which he captures the confident spirit of youth. I found this song in a great homemade video by Gino East.

  I Am the Greatest / Kenny Rogers

In the next video, Bruce Springsteen introduces John Fogerty (formerly of Creedence Clearwater Revival) who had a huge hit with this tribute to baseball in 1985 from his solo career.

Centerfield / John Fogerty

 Here are some very famous comedy routines about baseball by two different comedy duos.

Who's on First? / Abbott & Constello

Thanks to fitzg for reminding me of this next video!

Shakespearean Baseball / Wayne & Shuster

Don't you just love all the references to Richard III?

 There are quite a few baseball themed movies and several posts on the web about people's favourite Top 10.  So rather than list them myself, I thought I would show some stills from some of them. I don't think there's a baseball movie I didn't like, (unless it  was a sequel).

 Charlie Sheen appeared in 2 very different baseball movies within a year of each other.

Eight Men Out (1988)
Major League (1989)

Yeah, I know. But this was before he went foul.

David Strathairn also had a role in the star-studded Eight Men Out, the true story about the White Sox scandal, where some members of an ill-used ball team throw their chance at the World Series title in a betting scheme.

A League of Their Own
Eight Men Out

He also played the good-hearted manager of a woman's baseball league during WWII in A League of Their Own.

Kevin Costner 
Both of these movies usually end up on people's Top 10 baseball movies with Bull Durham rating higher among afficionados.  But I was not fond of the characters in it and have never been able to watch it from start to finish.  I much prefer Field of Dreams, which is based on a book by Canadian author W.P. Kinsella. It is a blend of fantasy and realistic drama with some historical characters thrown into the mix. One of these characters is "Shoeless Joe" Jackson who, along with most of his team members (featured in Eight Men Out) were banned from playing the sport, in his case, mistakenly. They all get their chance to play ball again, their ghostly selves returned to their prime and hanging out in a corn field in Iowa. Other people must also prefer Field of Dreams, as it has a higher rating at IMDb.com (Internet Movie Database).
Field of Dreams (1989)
Bull Durham (1988)

Tom Selleck

Not the greatest movie here, but this one is interesting for the fact that it takes place in Japan so we get to see the clash of cultures and a different style of playing the game.  Fans of Tom Selleck will also enjoy his performance.  If you are not crazy about Tom S., Japanese culture or baseball you will definitely strike out with this movie.
Mr. Baseball  (1992)

Robert Redford

I have mentioned Mr. Redford before on this blog, so regular readers may know I have a soft spot for him.  Basically, all he has to do is show up in a movie and I'm happy!  I saw The Natural quite a long time ago and as it wasn't on my Netflix line-up I couldn't do a rewatch, but I do remember enjoying this movie.  It is a bit of a fantasy too, so those people who are not dreamers, but want "just the facts" might not be impressed by it.

The Natural (1984)

The baseball movie that I can easily drop everything to watch again repeatedly is A League of Their Own.  director Penny Marshall's look back at World War II on the home front, when women not only took over for men in the factories and businesses, but also on the baseball field!

Tom Hanks & Geena Davis

A League of Their Own (1992)

Geena Davis looks gorgeous in this movie playing the part of Dottie Hinson, the best player in the league. The character was a composite of several outstanding female ballplayers but mostly modeled after Dottie Kamenshek, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 84.
Also appearing in this movie are Madonna and Rosie O'Donnell who are hilarious together and I hear became close friends as a result of this movie. Tom Hanks, as a washed up player recruited to coach the team behaves like a useless drunk, until he finally  realizes these aren't just pretty girls in skirts pretending to play ball, but true athletes who play for the love of the game. Tom Hanks has no shortage of famous movie quotes and one of his best is in this movie.  Said to a distraught player after he berates her for fumbling a play, "There's no crying in baseball!" 

I would challenge anyone to a dry eye after watching Gary Cooper in  
Pride of the Yankees (1942)

Meet the real man behind the movie -- New York Yankees first baseman Lou Gehrig.  That's right, he is the one with the disease named after him.  ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. He was the most famous person at the time to develop this illness and I guess you could say he also put a face to the name.  It is such a horrible disease that gradually but inevitably robs a person of all their abilities until it eventually causes death. 
Lou Gehrig (1903-1941)

Here is Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees shaking hands with baseball great Babe Ruth, who played himself in the movie.

Since we are now in a melancholic mood, I must share this Paul Simon song which I have loved ever since I first heard it on his Still Crazy After All These Years album from 1975.

Night Game / Paul Simon

Okay... so you know I like baseball movies and you might remember that I have this favourite actor ... So...pardon me while I fantasize about Richard Armitage in a baseball movie!!

No?  This doesn't work for you? He's just too British for the American League?

I don't give up that easily. Wasn't baseball a spin off from that grand old
British sport of Cricket?
 Oh dear! Maybe that's just not cricket!


Anonymous said...

Lovely post! (one of the classic W&S segments) Julius Caesar for next March?


Phylly3 said...

I figured you'd appreciate Wayne & Shuster fitzg! Is there another Julius Caesar skit? I already used one in the post on Roman Bath. But I am sure I can find another excuse to feature another W&S routine. :)

judiang said...

I was a very poor player mainly because I couldn't see the ball before it could bean me, so I never learned to love the sport. :D

Great post. I really liked the addition of the videos.

bccmee said...

Wow, I have seen most or all of those baseball movies. Never heard of Wayne and Shuster but that sketch was brilliant! I laughed aloud many times, especially as I'm a fan of both baseball and Shakespeare. :)

Phylly3 said...

@judiang -- That was my problem, exactly! So I learned to avoid it. Even after I got glasses it took me a long time to get the courage to try and catch a ball, rather than run from it! :)
@bccmee -- Ha! Glad I could interest you in Wayne & Shuster. They were comedy staples on CBC when I was growing up. I am glad their witty humour has passed the test of time.

MaryKwizMiz said...

thanks for a wonderful post that made me smile after a long week.. and make a list of films to re-watch soon ;)
I've never been into baseball though always been fascinated by it to an extent.. it's not played here much (yet?) .. tried Wii version and loved the batting part though in real life I'd probably do better throwing and caching.. must try one day.
I even learned the basic rules once(unlike cricket, on which I've given up, much to the chagrin of Mr. T ;)..
thanks for the Paul Simon song, had totally eluded me so far..
have a lovely weekend, I'll spend it with football (soccer) and frisbee in the park :D
BTW - LOL at Mr. A's sporty side.. gave me another idea ;)

Phylly3 said...

@TeeTotallyNot-- Glad you liked the Paul Simon song! I'm really excited that you've got a new idea, I can't wait to see what you're going to come up with! Thanks for commenting!

JaneGS said...

Awesome tribute to the Game! I didn't become a fan until I met my fanatic husband, but I am now a true fan. Okay--love League of their Own and Bull Durham and like The Natural and Field of Dreams. Love Who's on First, and Lou Gehrig's farewell. Love, love, love Centerfield--"brown-eyed handsome man" clinches it for me, plus the beat ain't bad. And then there's Damn Yankees!

Do you know about Diamond Cuts: http://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Cuts-Play-Ball-Vol/dp/B00004YN8T We only have vols 1 and 2, but still play them a fair amount!

Finally, ever heard Christine Lavin sing Baseball? It's a classic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpMRD24ps8I

Phylly3 said...

Dear JaneGS:
Thanks so much for commenting. I love your links! I hadn't heard of that baseball song collection "Diamond Cuts". You reminded me that Springsteen's "Glory Days" was about guys reminiscing about old baseball games!
I hadn't heard of Christine Lavin or her baseball song so that was a real treat!
I also left out a couple of other stories I had about my family's experience with the game -- Truly there was enough material here for several more posts! :)
I hadn't seen "Damn Yankees either!
Oh, well maybe next season! Thanks again for your contributions!