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Coop's an ex-ballplayer is now a peanut vendor, who takes too much of an interest in the game. But he's passed on his craze for baseball to his son, Christie. When his dad gets fired, Chris makes friends with the former team owner's niece (and her boyfriend Pete), and not only gets his dad's job back, but a batboy position for himself. With his dad's help, Christie begins to make a few suggestions here and there. And as a publicity stunt, the team makes him their youngest manager on record. But when Chris gets sick, Coop has to come to the rescue. Written by
The title role of The Kid From Left Field is played by Billy Chapin from a whole family of juvenile actors. He's a baseball crazed kid who gets to live the dream of any kid like that, he gets to manage a major league ball club. More important than that, he's a success at it.
Of course it's not all him by any means. He comes by his baseball smarts through Dan Dailey his father who know is a peanut vendor in the Bison ballpark. But Dailey was once a former big league player who missed his big chance because of an ungovernable temper and an undisciplined nature. A sadder and wiser Dailey knows it and now is a vendor for the team he used to play for.
Young Chapin becomes a bat boy and then gets to giving advice, good advice to the players, but that undermines manager Richard Egan's authority. He gets the kid fired, but then Egan gets fired and young Chapin realizes a dream.
You know how this film is going to end, every cliché that is involved in a baseball film is used here. Still The Kid From Left Field is a nice family picture with eternal appeal. Such folks as Lloyd Bridges, Fess Parker, and Bob Hopkins as Bison players, Ray Collins as the owner and Anne Bancroft as his secretary all perform admirably.
Best scene in the film is when manager Chapin takes over an argument from player Bridges with an umpire and gets thrown out of the game. But Billy Martin and Leo Durocher were not picked up by the seat of the pants deposited in their dugouts by an umpire.
The Kid From Left Field was remade more than two decades later with Robert Guillaume and Gary Coleman taking over the parts that Dailey and Chapin had. I've not seen it as yet, but it will have to go some to beat the charm of the original.
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