A new kid in town is taken under the wing of a young baseball prodigy and his team in this coming of age movie set in the summer of 1962. Together, they get themselves into many adventures involving rival teams, lifeguards, and a vicious dog.
Jim Morris is a Texas high school chemistry teacher and coach of the school's baseball team. He's always loved baseball and as a way of motivating his players, he agrees to go to a professional try-out if they win the championship. He once had aspirations to be a professional baseball player but an injury brought that to an end. Sure enough, the 39 year-old father of three finds himself at a camp for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and he somehow seems to have regained his pitching arm, easily throwing a 98 mph fastball. Signed to a contract, he toils in the minor leagues while his supportive wife stays home raising their children. He soon finds himself called up to the big club and pitching for Tampa which is in Texas playing the Rangers. Based on a true story. Written by
Actually two one-hour movies, great inspirational stories.
My favorite films are those which are based on an interesting true story, and are well made. "The Rookie" fits that bill, and I rate it very highly. At first glance it appears to be about getting to play baseball. In fact, it is about making your dreams come true, and the power of friendship. Baseball just happens to be the subject matter. The first one-hour movie is about a 10-member high school team in West Texas that barely manages to win one game each year. It is about their coach inspiring them to become the district champs and go to the state tournament in 1999.
The second one-hour movie comes about from a "deal" the kids made with the coach. "If we win district, then you have to go to a tryout with a professional baseball team." They do, so he does. And to his and everyone else's surprise, his 85-mph fastball as a 20-year-old has become a 98-mph one as a 35-year-old. The films hints that it might have been divine intervention, a prayer to St Rita, the patron of the impossible. Might have been!!
Dennis Quaid is a bit older than 35, but he does a good job and is believable as science teacher, coach, and finally a surprised big-league pitcher in Arlington, Tx stadium, where he strikes out his very first big-league batter. The real Jim played two seasons, not particularly distinguished, but that point is way secondary. The journey, and the way he made it, with support from family and his baseball kids is what this film is all about.
The DVD is very nice, with a great picture and decent use of the 5.1 Dolby surround sound. Extras include footage of the real Jim, some original footage of his playing days, and his narration and re-enactment of his first trip to a big-league mound. Great stuff! Plus a few, moderately interesting deleted scenes explained by the director.
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