Editor’s Note: In the spirit of seeking sunshine during a gray winter, and to help usher in the upcoming baseball season we will be counting down our favorite baseball movies for the next three weeks. Today’s choice was literally a natural to include on the countdown.
Last time on our Baseball Movie countdown we looked at Moneyball which showed the future of the game of baseball through the use of advance metrics.
Today it is only natural to balance things out a little bit by looking at a film that celebrates the pre sabermetrics Golden Age of baseball.
Roy Hobbs and his bat named “Wonderboy” anchor The Natural which is a tale of making the most of second chances and knocking out a few stadium lights in the process.
The movie came out in 1984 and is an adaptation of Bernard Malamud’s 1952 baseball novel of the same name.
Starring Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Wilfred Brimley, Kim Bassinger and Robert Duvall the movie recounts the experiences of Roy Hobbs, a player in the 1930’s with great “natural” talent, and questionable decision making when it comes to members of the opposite sex.
After being shot when he was 19 by a crazed female fan, Hobbs makes a comeback attempt in his mid-thirties with the New York Knights managed by Pop Fisher (played by Brimley).
There are of course many baseball clichés included in the movie from the grizzled “seen it all manager” to the “intrepid baseball reporter” looking for a scoop, but all in all the clichés do not distract from the overall tone of the story.
And the movie’s climax is certainly one for the ages with the cascade of sparks falling down from the busted stadium lights after Hobbs hits the home run as the iconic music plays in the background.
It is an iconic scene in and iconic film and certainly one to remember.
The music from that iconic scene can be heard at Ranger Ballpark in Arlington whenever a member of the home team sends one over the outfield fence.
I am sure there are other teams that do the same thing but the only one I have seen do it in person is the Rangers.
Admittedly I am sure many of us have hummed along to that song after achieving some feat of skill or other accomplishment while picturing a shower of sparks falling around us.
Some days just getting out of bed can be cause for humming the theme to The Natural as we make our way around the base path of life.
In addition to creating lasting memories of home runs that knock out the stadium lights the film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actress (Glenn Close), and nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress (Kim Basinger).
So with all of that in its corner it would be only natural for The Natural to make our countdown.
Now if you’ll excuse, I need to go dodge a shower of sparks.
Copyright 2016 R. Anderson