This song isn’t really about baseball, per se, but I think it’s a good example of how deeply the game is ingrained in the American psyche as the National Pastime. The idea that giving a young man a baseball would be considered by so many to be a fundamental building block in his development is a pretty profound statement.
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.
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.”
Earlier this month, TheDailyWoo posted this video of his trip to Cooperstown, New York and his walk through the Baseball Hall of Fame. I had the opportunity to visit the town and the museum a few years ago, and this video was a nice reminder of the sights and the atmosphere of the Cooperstown experience. The town is full of nostalgia, the Hall of Fame museum is awe-inspiring, and this video reflects those feelings well.
I’m not sure if I like this song, in all honesty. The tune is a bit catchy, but there is literally no imagination when it comes to the “lyrics.” Nevertheless, Big Papi is getting inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in just a matter of days, so I decided it was worth sharing anyways.
A Little Inside is not a very well-known movie — or, at least, I only recently became aware of it, and the film was released in 1999. It features a number of lesser-known actors, plus a young Jared Padelecki and Jesse Eisenberg’s kid sister, Hallie.
The movie tells the story of Eddie Mills, a former minor league ballplayer who gives up the game upon his wife’s death to raise his daughter, Abby. Life as a single dad proves challenging for Eddie, who struggles to understand what little girls like or need. As much as Eddie wishes Abby would follow in his footsteps as a baseball player, Abby instead develops an interest in ballet.
Realizing that he misses the game, Eddie decides to return to baseball with the Columbus Clippers — after five years away. Eddie’s coaches are understandably hesitant about his return, but Abby, despite her lack of interest in playing the game, is excited about her father’s comeback. Unfortunately, his relationship with his daughter finds itself on the rocks when Eddie tells her she can’t go on the road with him until school is out. While Eddie is on the road, Abby stays with the Mills’ neighbor, Nancy.
Eddie’s teammates, all much younger than he is, are not too thrilled with the team’s newest addition. They mostly give him the cold shoulder, at least until he starts to see some playing time and proves his ability to contribute to the team’s success. Suddenly, Eddie finds himself getting called up to the Yankees.
Eddie gets the opportunity to play three innings for the Yankees, no doubt the highlight of his baseball career. However, the experience continues to prove hard on Eddie’s relationship with Abby, and Eddie gives up his baseball career for a second time.
This is definitely more of a feel-good movie than it is a true baseball movie — there is just enough baseball to keep a fan engaged, if you’re interested in checking it out. The flick won’t knock your socks off, by any means. As far as movies go, it’s honestly pretty mediocre and predictable. But it makes for a good family-night film, and sometimes, that can be kind of nice.
This piece by Mike Makley was published in 1975. I particularly love the twist at the end, and the fact that this was written so long ago, when girls playing ball was generally frowned upon, makes it all the better.
Our baseball team never did very much,
we had me and PeeWee and Earl and Dutch.
And the Oak Street Tigers always got beat
until the new kid moved in on our street.
The kid moved in with a mitt and a bat
and an official New York Yankee hat.
The new kid plays shortstop or second base
and can outrun us all in any place.
The kid never muffs a grounder or fly
no matter how hard it’s hit or how high.
And the new kid always acts quite polite,
never yelling or spitting or starting a fight.
We were playing the league champs just last week;
they were trying to break our winning streak.
In the last inning the score was one-one,
when the new kid swung and hit a home run.
A few of the kids and their parents say
they don’t believe that the new kid should play.
But she’s good as me, Dutch, PeeWee or Earl,
so we don’t care that the new kid’s a girl.
Gotta beware of those ushers.
I wish I had thought to try this when I was playing.
Ray Kinsella: Don’t we need a catcher?
Shoeless Joe Jackson: Not if you get it near the plate we don’t.
RIP Ray Liotta, 1954-2022