The Fan


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I first watched The Fan a few years ago, at the suggestion of a (now ex-) boyfriend. This weekend, I decided to sit down and take the movie in again. The Fan stars Wesley Snipes as Bobby Rayburn, an MLB star slugger, as well as Robert DeNiro as Gil Renard, a knife salesman and baseball fan who is absolutely obsessed with Rayburn.

Bobby Rayburn has just signed a $40 million contract with the San Francisco Giants — a development that has garnered a lot of scrutiny regarding whether Rayburn actually deserves such an exorbitant salary. Rayburn covets the jersey number 11, which is currently worn by teammate Juan Primo. However, Primo has his own long history wearing the number and is unwilling to give it up so Bobby can wear it. Rayburn’s performance as the season gets underway, meanwhile, is less than stellar, and fans grow critical of his contract.

Gil Renard, meanwhile, finds himself in conflict with his ex-wife, and when he leaves their son alone at a Giants game to attend a sales meeting, his ex obtains a restraining order against him. Shortly thereafter, Gil also gets fired from his job after threatening a client. These events send Gil into a tailspin, and his obsession with Bobby Rayburn intensifies. Gil begins stalking Bobby.

Believing that Rayburn’s struggles are due to not being able to wear his favorite jersey number, Gil decides to confront Primo himself. Primo shows Gil his shoulder, branded with the number 11, and says that it is his number. A struggle ensues, and Gil stabs Primo to death. Bobby Rayburn is suspected of the murder, at first. Nevertheless, his performance on the diamond improves, and Gil believes that what he did benefited Rayburn and the Giants.

While stalking Rayburn at his home on the beach, Gil rescues Rayburn’s son, Sean, from drowning. Bobby Rayburn, of course, is grateful to Gil and invites him into their home. Gil convinces Bobby to play catch with him on the beach, and in the conversation that follows, Bobby says he stopped caring about the game after Primo’s death, because he realized there were more important things in life. He also tells Gil that he has lost respect for the fans, remarking on their fickle nature. Gil takes offense to these comments, believing Bobby is ungrateful for the favor Gil has done for him in killing Primo.

Gil kidnaps Bobby’s son, Sean, and in a tense phone conversation between the two, Gil directs Bobby to his freezer, where Bobby discovers the patch of Primo’s skin with the number 11 brand. The movie climaxes in a showdown between the two men on the baseball diamond, in the midst of a downpour.

This film is definitely more appealing as a thriller than as just a baseball movie. I enjoy thrillers, so I find that I like this movie quite a bit. If that is also your cup of tea, then you might find The Fan an appealing option. If you’re looking for a true baseball movie, however, maybe skip this one.

To Timothy H. Murnane, by Ralph E. McMillin

Tim Murnane was a former first baseman and center fielder turned sportswriter during the late-19th to early-20th century. He was considered the leading baseball writer at The Boston Globe for about 30 years until his death. While writing, he also organized and led professional sports leagues and helped govern the baseball industry. In 1946, the Baseball Hall of Fame established the Honor Rolls of Baseball and named Murnane one of twelve writers to be honored. He was also selected by the BBWAA as a recipient of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award for excellence in baseball journalism in 1978.

*

Pack up his bats, pick up his glove,
For him the Game is done;
At last the stars peep out above
The setting of the sun.
Once more the field, serene at night,
Is still, and hushed the shout.
The Presence chokes us as we write
Just this: “He ran it out.”

Above the plate Time held the ball:
He turned the last gray bag
With stride that weakened not at all.
His spirit did not lag,
But proudly Homeward bound he sped,
Nor feared the final rout.
High flung at last the silver’d head,
Unbowed “he ran it out.”

Quote of the day

A catcher must want to catch. He must make up his mind that it isn’t the terrible job it is painted, and that he isn’t going to say every day, ‘Why, oh why with so many other positions in baseball did I take up this one.

~Bill Dickey

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Bill Dickey, 1937 (Library of Congress)

RIP Vin Scully

Vincent Edward Scully was born on November 29, 1927 in the Bronx, New York, growing up in Manhattan. He fell in love with baseball when, at the age of eight, he saw the results of the second game of the 1936 World Series at a laundromat and felt a pang of sympathy for the badly defeated New York Giants.

Scully was best known for calling games for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, beginning in 1950 and ending in 2016. His 67-year run calling games constituted the longest tenure of any broadcaster with a single team in professional sports history, and he was second only to Tommy Lasorda in terms of the number of years associated with the Dodgers organization in any capacity. Scully was known for his distinctive voice, his descriptive style, and his signature introduction to Dodgers games: “It’s time for Dodger baseball! Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good afternoon (or evening) to you, wherever you may be.”

He is considered by many to be the greatest baseball broadcaster of all time, with his final game being broadcast from San Francisco’s AT&T Park on October 2, 2016. His many awards and achievements include being awarded the Ford C. Frick Award (1982), the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award (2014), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). Scully even has a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star.

Vin Scully passed away August 2, 2022 at the age of 94.

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Vin Scully, March 2008 (Craig Y. Fujii/Wikimedia Commons)