The Rookie

by Sunday, March 6th, 2011 1:57pm Part of the At the Movies series

As the weather starts to warm (yes, Chicago, I promise you it is), our thoughts turn to all things Spring. For me, nothing says spring more than Baseball. However, if it’s still a bit too cold to hit the batting cage and you don’t have the cash to go to Arizona or Florida, a baseball movie does just as well.

Today, we look at Disney’s The Rookie (2002). Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and written by Mike Rich (Secretariat), The Rookie tells the story of real-life Major League Pitcher, Jim Morris. A High School Chemistry Teacher and Baseball Coach, Morris is looking for a way to inspire his kids. He promises his team that if they can win the championship, he’ll go to the professional tryout they’ve been bugging him about. The kids win and he reluctantly goes to the tryout expecting to be cut immediately. There’s only one problem. Morris throws 12 consecutive pitches at 98 miles an hour and he’s signed by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

As the weather starts to warm (yes, Chicago, I promise you it is), our thoughts turn to all things Spring. For me, nothing says spring more than Baseball. However, if it’s still a bit too cold to hit the batting cage and you don’t have the cash to go to Arizona or Florida, a baseball movie does just as well.

Today, we look at Disney’s The Rookie (2002). Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and written by Mike Rich (Secretariat), The Rookie tells the story of real-life Major League Pitcher, Jim Morris. A High School Chemistry Teacher and Baseball Coach, Morris is looking for a way to inspire his kids. He promises his team that if they can win the championship, he’ll go to the professional tryout they’ve been bugging him about. The kids win and he reluctantly goes to the tryout expecting to be cut immediately. There’s only one problem. Morris throws 12 consecutive pitches at 98 miles an hour and he’s signed by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The Rookie follows Morris (played by the exceptionally rugged Dennis Quaid) on his unconventional road from the classroom to the majors and all of the challenges in between. He still has a family to take care for on a Minor Leaguer’s salary, which for those of you keeping score is far from a Major Leaguer’s salary. Oh, and did I mention that he’s 35? If he gets injured once, it’s all over. If you don’t tear up when he sees his name sewn onto his jersey at the Ballpark at Arlington for the first time, you have no soul. (Please note: I teared up while typing that sentence.)

The real Morris lasted two seasons in the Major Leagues. He had a 4.80 ERA and struck out 42 guys in a 162-game career. That’s not Hall of Fame numbers, but that’s still two more seasons than you or I ever pitched in the Majors. Today, Morris is justifiably a motivational speaker.

The Rookie employs all of the hackney stereotypes of a Disney movie: sweeping shots, a swelling soundtrack and lighting that always makes the female lead (Rachel Griffiths in this case) look amazing. Nonetheless, in regards to this movie, I fall for all of it. Who wouldn’t? Apparently you can still “wish upon a star”, even at the ripe old age of 35.

It’s hard to look on this movie with any cynicism. At its core, it’s a beautiful story about making your dreams come true. It’s got a strong cast, including the kid from Two and a Half Men (before he was afraid to go to work) and most importantly… it’s a great excuse to watch of a montage of a sweaty Dennis Quaid pitching in the rain.

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265662/
WRITER: Mike Rich
DIRECTOR: John Lee Hancock
STARS: Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Brian Cox

Check out Trish’s new Baseball Blog at trishvignola.mlblogs.com !

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