Baseball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Batter's Box

By Eric Bronson | Go to book overview

POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE
23b What's the Best
Baseball Movie?
It Happens Every
Spring
(1949)

LARRY RAFUL

There are two kinds of baseball films. One is the “you guys sit in the theater and we'll put on a movie so you can root for the hero” kind of film. The two Kevin Costner movies (Field of Dreams and Bull Durham) are in this league, as is The Natural. All three are tremendously entertaining and pure fantasy. Why “fantasy?” Because we can't relate to any of the three characters. We can only view them from afar, root for them, and admire them. We want Roy Hobbs to hit the homer, but no one I know identifies with Robert Redford's character. We have never heard voices in cornfields and then driven off across the country seeking The Voice. And maybe you have, but I know I've never met a baseball fan like Annie Savoy in Bull Durham.

And the other kind of baseball film? That's the kind made to entertain by allowing us to place ourselves into the movie, to allow us to seriously identify with the protagonist. “Gee, if it were only me up there instead of him.” These baseball movies allow common shlubs to place themselves in The Show, to somehow release our earthly bonds for a few minutes and soar, to somehow, by hook or crook, wind up on the diamond. These, too, have an element of fantasy, but the fantasy happens to the common man. It allows that person, simply, to play baseball at the major league level, or at least at a level of excellence that helps his team win. And, I submit, playing baseball at that level is a dream millions of people

-324-

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