Cut4 Roundtable: What's your favorite baseball scene in a non-baseball movie?
Welcome to the Cut4 Roundtable, in which our staff confronts the same question about baseball, sports, pop culture, or some combination of all of it. Today's topic: our favorite baseball scenes in non-baseball movies.
What's your favorite? Leave yours in the comments!
Dakota Gardner: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
I won't go into the genius of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, John Hughes or "Oh Yeah." There's far too much to say and far too little space in this venue to discuss it, so right into the meat and potatoes:
I didn't grow up in a town with a baseball team, so the concept of skipping school to see sports was so exotic to me that it forever cemented itself in my subconscious -- permanently equating day baseball with forbidden fun.
The content of the scene alone is priceless. Ferris' catching of a foul ball. The edit between Dean Rooney seeing the game on TV and our protagonists' seats at the park. Cameron's carefully rehearsed taunts of the batter: "Hecanthithecanthithecanthit." The fact that they're randomly sitting along the third baseline instead of in the bleachers as any self-respecting hooky-pullers would. It's all just so wonderfully haphazard and spontaneous.
The scene is uniquely Chicago and a wholehearted celebration of everything that can make baseball great. Who the Cubs are playing is an irrelevant piece of trivia. What matters is that Ferris is there with his two best friends, and that they're making a memory together. Ultimately, that's the point of baseball -- and to a larger point, sports. It's escapism from the stresses of daily life, even if those stresses are as vast as the problems of the world or as simple as a boring old day at school.
Matt Monagan: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
WARNING: Video contains a few words that wouldn't be used in a real baseball broadcast:
OK, so the film doesn't exactly show people playing America's pastime, but it does feature one incredible imaginary baseball broadcast. Randall "Mac" McMurphy, played by Jack Nicholson, wants to watch the '63 World Series between the Yankees and the Dodgers. Nurse Ratched, the lovely lady in charge at the Oregon-based mental facility, tells Mac it's not happening (even after he gets the majority vote she requested).
Then, something amazing happens. Mac sits in front of the TV and pretends he's watching the game. And while he's narrating the imaginary in-game scenarios involving Koufax being "in big trouble" (something that was never even remotely true), more and more of his hospital-mates begin gathering around the set, intrigued by the commotion. By the time Mac announces that Yanks outfielder Tom Tresh has hit a home run, the entire crew is in absolute pandemonium. And the only thing better than seeing grown men jumping up and down over an imaginary baseball game is seeing Nurse Ratched squirming in defeat.
Molly Fitzpatrick: Radio Days
I've been a Woody Allen fan through thick and thin -- I still don't know how Whatever Works managed to make Larry David actively unfunny -- but Radio Days is easily one of his best.
Set in Brooklyn in the late '30s and early '40s, the film follows a boy -- a preteen, pre-Austin Powers Seth Green -- his family and their beloved radio programs. My favorite of these is Bill Kern's Favorite Sports Legends: a pitch-perfect (pun intended) parody of old-timey, golden-throated baseball broadcasters.
The morbidly goofy episode featured in the movie describes the life of Kirby Kyle, a fictitious St. Louis pitcher. Kirby Kyle: you could brainstorm for two weeks and not come up with a more perfect ballplayer name.
Kyle's biography was loosely based on the life of White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton, who continued his career for seven seasons in the Minor Leagues after losing a leg in a hunting accident. But Kirby Kyle is equal parts Monty Python: he loses a leg ... and an arm ... and is blinded ... and gets hit by a truck. Everyone on the DL looks like an unconscionable wimp by comparison.
Plus, the attention to detail in the in-ballpark shots is great -- my fondness for the Cards' vintage uniforms is a matter of public record -- especially the reproductions of Chesterfield and Hostess ads on the outfield wall. Well done, Woody.
Dan Wohl: Hook
There's a fair deal of exposition about the Lost Boys' society in Hook. For instance, how they feed themselves: by eating imaginary food, which I really can't believe there hasn't been a TED Talk on yet. But what about the pirates?
Aside from Captain Hook and Smee, these buccaneers are anonymous. We don't know much about how they occupy their time (actual piracy isn't usually on the agenda, it seems). The film's baseball scene, however, provides a fascinating glimpse.
The scene exists mainly to fan the flames of the father-son tension endemic to pretty much every Spielberg film: Hook indulges Peter's son's love of baseball while Peter couldn't be bothered to make it to Jack's games. But you can tell baseball isn't a new activity for the pirates. The catcher who shoots the stealing baserunner dead is admonished by Hook for not "playing by Master Jack's rules." Translation: there are previously-established pirate rules.
And what rules those must be! Since they apparently allow for the application of lethal force as a means of run prevention. Also, Hook owns an alternate hook specifically designed for handling a baseball glove, which I doubt was smelted just for Jack's sake. What kind of pirate-baseball player was he like in his younger days? Possibly a catcher, and definitely not one that I'd ever think about stealing on.
What do you think of our choices? Want to make a case for The Naked Gun, Twilight, In The Bedroom, The Untouchables, or High School Musical 2? Tell us in the comments!