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The Winning Team (1952)

6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 542 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 8 critic

Poor health and alcoholism force Grover Cleveland Alexander out of baseball, but through his wife's faithful efforts, he gets a chance for a comeback and redemption.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Aimee Alexander
...
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Frank Lovejoy ...
Eve Miller ...
Margaret Killefer
James Millican ...
Bill Killefer
...
Willie Alexander (as Rusty Tamblyn)
Gordon Jones ...
George Glasheen
Hugh Sanders ...
Joe McCarthy
Frank Ferguson ...
Sam Arrants
Walter Baldwin ...
Pa Alexander
...
Ma Alexander
Bob Lemon ...
Jesse 'Pop' Haines
Jerry Priddy ...
Ballplayer
Peanuts Lowery ...
Ballplayer (as Peanuts Lowrey)
George Metkovich ...
Ballplayer
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Storyline

In 1911, Grover Cleveland Alexander - Alex to his friends - is a Nebraska country hayseed who says he wants to settle down, marry his girlfriend Aimee Arrants and be a farmer to offer Aimee a secure and stable life. However he always seems to drop everything whenever the opportunity to play baseball, specifically as a pitcher, arises. This focus on baseball does not sit well with either Aimee or her father, who see it as Alex solely wanting to have fun while shirking responsibility. When Alex is asked to pitch in a game against a visiting professional team, he seizes the chance and throws a three hitter en route to winning the game. That leads to a stint on that pro team, the money from which he promises to use to buy Aimee her farm. When an eye injury seems to end his career even before it begins, he changes his focus to being a farmer to please his now wife Aimee Alexander, but thoughts of baseball that can never be in his life still torture him. When his injury does eventually heal... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

And here comes the pitch, Yes, the pitch, the pitch for the warmest, most wonderful, most human story ever told, the true story of Grover Cleveland Alexander! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 June 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Big League  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to TMC Ronald Reagan had lobbied hard to play the title role in "The Stratton Story" but Warner Bothers didn't want to take a chance on a baseball film and passed on the project. After "The Stratton Story" became a huge hit they picked up the Grover Cleveland Alexander story about another ball player who made a comeback after being forced from professional baseball. See more »

Goofs

1916 is shown as the year of Alexander leading the Phillies to the pennant, when the correct year was 1915. See more »

Quotes

Grover Cleveland Alexander: You must be so tired, Dear!
Aimee Alexander: Why should I be tired?
Grover Cleveland Alexander: I've been stealing strength from you all season - every game, every pitch. Without you there, I couldn't have done any of it. God must think a lot of me. He's given me you.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Diamonds on the Silver Screen (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Lucky Day
(uncredited)
Music by Ray Henderson
Played at the beginning of the Yankee Stadium sequence
See more »

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User Reviews

Great film for it's limitations
17 September 2007 | by (Czech Republic) – See all my reviews

I rated it higher than I normally would because it is a film that deserves to be watched.

Anyone who had the benefit of seeing insider comments from the classic film network I taped it from would know that Grover Cleveland Alexander suffered from seizures do to epilepsy.

Ronald Reagan was quite disappointed at the film company not including that in the film and not naming the disease, though implying some physical problem was involved in Alexander's problems.

The drinking was due to fear (which the film touches on) from NOT UNDERSTANDING EPILEPSY and the seizures that he had.

I think Reagan gave the character life and those who point out his deficiencies as an athlete don't mention that he was an athlete himself, playing football and eventually got a job as a sports announcer. That job helped him land his first role in Hollywood as a sports announcer on screen.

No actor is going to play baseball as well as an actual baseball player. It is a skill that many have tried and few succeed at. 'Knowing' the sport is not the same as being able to play it to the level of a big leaguer.

So, forgiving an actor for not being able to pitch like a real big leaguer is not hard when the main story here is his life, his marriage and his service to his country and to baseball between his very real struggles of epilepsy and drinking.

The film is actually quite ground breaking, covering something from an era where these things were often covered up and if they did make the news, they were public scandals. In this case, Mrs. Alexander (who was played brilliantly by Doris Day here), protected her husband's image at the time by omitting (apparently) some divorces that were designed to help him come to his senses.

Perhaps it was to help protect her as well. She probably felt she made mistakes too in trying to help him the wrong way. It's hard to know how to handle when someone's whole personality changes due to an illness.

The way the media is today, an athlete's whole career could be railroaded with no second chance by an episode of making a bad choice due to pain of getting intoxicated. This doesn't excuse Alexander's bad choices. He should have been honest with his wife and got help (also should have been honest with his baseball team(s)).

But the fact is, Babe Ruth would likely have had a tough time getting in the Hall of Fame in this age when Mark McGuire was overlooked because some people BELIEVE he used illegal steroids. It has yet to be proved and he never admitted it, only to the use of legal vitamin supplements, yet he isn't in the Hall of Fame.

Pete Rose is not forgiven to this day for the gambling which didn't occur as a player, but apparently as a manager.

Yes, baseball as in all of life should have standards. I just see that there have been many double standards as in not giving people a second chance and trying to build up heroes just to knock them down and ruin their lives.

Enough of them do it on their own (i.e. Ken Caminiti, Jose Conseco, etc.) without having to have people who aren't even in the know judging men who have the same weaknesses as us, yet have sought to inspire us to rise above those weaknesses and excel at something to give young people encouragement.

One unguarded moment or comment off the record to a reporter these days is enough to ruin a guy's life and career. Some guys are truly bad characters and deserve it.

Others, like Grover Cleveland Alexander, seem to deserve some understanding and compassion.

Would he have received it in today's journalistic environment?


3 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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