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In 1957, baseball is at its peak as America's favorite pastime. For aging minor leaguer Roy Dean Bream (William Russ), whose dreams of pitching in the Majors died long ago, the love of the game is all that keeps him showing up season after season. But when the team signs rookie Tyrone Debray (Glenn Plummer), a 17-year-old from the wrong side of town, Bream sees someone with the potential to achieve what he never could. As an unlikely friendship develops across the boundaries of race and age, these two ballplayers will inspire each other to become more than they ever thought they could be.
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This picture is less about baseball than about friendships and the finality of life's chapters. The story's almost too simple, with a contrived sad ending for the likeable Roy Dean. Even the presence of many former baseball greats can't fully redeem it. But enjoy anyway, and watch for cameos by Don Newcombe and Duke Snider, ex-Brooklyn Dodgers both, also Harmon Killebrew, the one-time great Minnesota Twin slugger, Cleveland fireballer Bob Feller, and the irrepressible "Mr. Cub," Ernie Banks."
The 1950s cars are fun to look at, too.
(Produced, written and directed by newcomer Robin B. Armstrong, who has made no theatrical films since.)
The cinematography is also reminiscent of October Sky, with its seemingly effortless depiction of real people in real situations. There is no phony lighting, and there is little make-up (apparently). I had to remind myself that "artlessness" is often simply the highest art.
The attitudes about baseball playing serve as metaphor for life in this movie without heavy sermonizing or symbolism. Even the costumes of the cast are so natural (and true to the historic period) that the movie almost seems to be a documentary.
My advice: have a box of Kleenex handy when watching this film.
I did have one minor question/complaint: was the death of the star due to overexertion or to a deliberate overdose of high-blood-pressure medication? A bottle of medication was shown as explanation (?) and the word "terminal" was on the label, but the part the medication played in his death was not clear.
As a testimony to my attitude, I am ordering two copies of the DVD to give to my family for Christmas!