Yankees Editorial: Ranking My Favorite Baseball Movies of All-Time
Mandatory Credit: thesky.com
#10. The Rookie (2002)
Sure, it’s a Disney movie, but it’s baseball nonetheless. The Rookie is a nice story about dreams, comebacks, and how if you allow something to eat you up inside, it’ll bug you for the remainder of your life no matter how old you get.
Dennis Quaid portrays Jim Morris, who once pitched in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization, but hurt his arm, which derailed and ended his career. The story is almost fairy tale in how it’s told, as Morris is now a science teacher in a small Texas town, one that doesn’t care too much about baseball.
Also serving as the high baseball coach, Morris grows increasingly frustrated with his situation both on the diamond and off, applying for a job to become coach at a much bigger school. After playing catch one day with his team’s catcher, it appears that Morris can still bring the heat, and soon thereafter, the rest of the team becomes aware of his skills as well.
In true Disney fashion, the team, which has always underperformed makes a deal with their coach: if they can win their district championship, he agrees to attend an open big league tryout, which they do, and he does. One of my favorite parts of the movie, is that he shows up in jeans, kids in tow, and has to change diapers while his little ones are excited about their Dad, especially his son, Hunter, played by Two And A Half Men’s Angus T. Jones.
While the movie is highly predictable, it isn’t a smooth ride back to the big leagues for Morris. His wife, Lorri, played by Rachel Griffiths, fears that Jim will re-injure his arm, along with the fact that after signing a contract with the then-Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the pay cut hurts the family’s ability to pay their bills at home. Morris also has a strained relationship with his father, a career Navy man, who never supported his son in his pursuit of his big league dream.
Of course Morris has success, and proceeds to move through the D-Rays farm system rather quickly, where he is an outsider as the old man among kids just starting their pro careers. Some view his comeback as a publicity stunt, and aren’t too kind to him. But after a September call-up, Morris realizes his dream of making it to the show, highlighted by whiffing Royce Clayton on three pitches. This is where history and Hollywood collide, as there are several inaccuracies in the film.
Morris actually struck out Clayton on four pitches, not three. The uniforms used for the movie were incorrect as well. Both teams used different uniforms in 1999, when film was supposed to take place. Alex Rodriguez was a member of the Seattle Mariners in 1999, and didn’t join Texas until 2001. Finally, the visitors bullpen was not where it appears in the movie, as anyone who has ever attended a Rangers’ game in Arlington would tell you. The details don’t matter, because it’s a heartwarming story of success, and intestinal fortitude, and shows that sometimes, even past your prime, dreams really can come true. That’s why this film comes in at #10 on my list.