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Bang The Drum Slowly

I think at some point in my life, I have watched almost every baseball themed movie ever made. I know I am probably wrong, because every now and then I come across one I have not seen.

I have a streaming service on my Roku called Classic Reels. It lists the films you can see by genre. Well down in the middle there is a listing of sports movies. The other day I was browsing and found a film called ” It Happened In Flatbush”.

The film is about a former player, Frank “Butterfingers” Maguire, whose error costs the Dodgers the pennant and his place in the lineup, and who is brought back seven years later to manage the team.

He takes charge of the team and cracks the whip getting them to become a contender. But he also falls for the team’s new female owner, and the players, tired of his drill sergeant tactics, circulate a petition to demand his ouster. But after a speech telling them how they owe it to their fans their best effort, the team rallies and wins the pennant.

The film was made in 1947, and is loosely based on the Dodgers 1941 pennant run, in which their manager was none other than Leo the Lip Durocher. Lloyd Nolan plays Maguire with Carole Landis, who was linked to Rex Harrison, and later commited suicide when he would not leave his wife. William Frawley, of I Love Lucy, and Robert Armstong as one of the players.

I enjoy movies like this. Made before all of the CGI stuff. Filmed in real ballparks for the most part with guys who have very few baseball skills.

But you could fast forward several years and this would almost be the same plot as Major League. Of course Major League had a lot more comedy in it.

 

 

But back when I was young, many movies were shown on TV and since this was before stations started making their own movies, they would have to go into the library’s of the major studios and purchase the rights to show the films.

I got a kick out of the films based on real players. Most had name actors playing someone usually younger, and much more athletic.

“The Pride of St. Louis” was about Dizzy Dean. Dan Dailey, who was usually a song and dance man, played Dean. A very young Richard Crenna, played his brother, Paul. JoAnne Dru was his wife.

The movie is pretty good, though much of it is pure fiction. But they get the important parts right, such as Paul’s career ending injury, and the line-drive off of his toe in the All-Star game that would eventually ruin Dizzy’s career. Making a small appearance in the movie as a radio announcer, Chet Huntley, of Huntley and Brinkley news team.

Another old baseball movie was “The Winning Team”. A biopic about Grover Cleveland Alexander. It starred Ronald Reagan, Doris Day, Frank Lovejoy, Russ Tamblyn. It also featured some real ballplayers, Peanuts Lowrey, George Metkovich, Jerry Priddy and Bob Lemon.

This movie is more of a drama than anything else, and much of the film is dedicated to what happened to Alexander after WWI with his constant battle with epileptic seizures and headaches. All this was caused by Mustard gas he was subjected to in the war. To deal with this he begins drinking, and alcohol also becomes a problem.

Most of the film is based on true events. The climax is when he is pitching in the 1926 World Series against the Yankees. Lovejoy plays Hall of Famer, Rogers Hornsby.

Some baseball films were just made for fun I have to believe. Alibi Ike, with Joe E Brown, Elmer the Great, also with Brown in the lead. Wallace Beery actually played The Mighty Casey in a 1927 silent film.

It is a shame to me that a film like “Pride of the Yankees”, the Lou Gehrig film with a great cast like Cooper, Teresa Wright, Walter Brennan, Dan Duryea, and several of Gehrig’s real life teammates like Ruth, Dickey, Muesel, Koenig, and Stern, was soon followed by a lame bio of Babe Ruth starring William Bendix.

Bendix was usually a supporting actor. He did have some solid actors around him like Charles Bickford and Claire Trevor. Mark Koenig also played himself in this movie. William Frawley was in this movie also as Jack Dunn, the owner of the Orioles who signed Ruth to his first contract. But most of the film is pure Hollywood except for the actual events that defined the Babes career. Unfortunately, Bendix had virtually no athletic skills.

Hollywood would repeat this blunder years later when “The Babe” was made, starring John Goodman. Jackie Robinson would play himself in the 1950 movie “The Jackie Robinson Story”. Ruby Dee played his wife.

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was a baseball musical starring Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Esther Williams, Jules Munshin, and for those of you who were wrestling fans in LA in the late 50’s and 60’s, Richard Lane. Better known as Dick “whoa Nelly” Lane. He announced wrestling on KTTV in LA from the Olympic Auditorium.

Kelly and Sinatra are ballplayers, but they are also Vaudeville performers. Esther Williams is the team’s new owner, and Lane is the manager. She takes over the team and sets rules like curfew and things like that. In order to get around them, Kelly decides to romance her.

Kelly is the team’s star SS, with Sinatra as the team’s second baseman. Together with Goldberg, played by Munshin, they form the league’s best DP combination.

Ala Tinkers, to Evers to Chance. So it is Obrien, to Ryan, to Goldberg. Which is also one of the film’s better tunes. It is light, fun and an entertaining movie that showcases how good the actors are at singing and dancing, but who have few baseball skills.

The best baseball drama I have seen is “Fear Strikes Out”. The Jimmy Piersall movie. This is a straight drama, so I did not expect much in the way of baseball action. But the story of Piersall’s mental problems is a very compelling story.

Anthony Perkins, another non-athletic actor, played Piersall. His dad was played by Karl Malden. It makes a person question just how far a child with athletic skills can be pushed by an overbearing parent. The scene where Piersall finally snaps is very dramatic.

I saw Piersall play when he was with the Angels. And after he finally came back into the league, I think his way of dealing with the stress was to act a little bit weird. Running the bases backwards after hitting his 100th career homer attests to that.

“Bang the Drum Slowly” with DeNiro and Law and Order star, Michael Moriarity, was a fictional story about a star pitcher, who refused to sign his contract unless his third string catcher was signed too. The catcher, DeNiro, has been diagnosed with cancer that is terminal.

It chronicles their journey together that season, and how because the other catchers on the team are having really bad years, the backup becomes the starter. The manager was played by Vincent Gardenia, who also played the NYC detective in Death Wish. All the non-Florida scenes were filmed at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium.

For the longest time, very few baseball related films were made. But in the 80’s, there were 20. 30 were made in the 90’s. Since 2000, almost 70 films and documentaries have been made, including one about Shohei Ohtani.

I still think Ken Burns “Baseball” is the definitive documentary about baseball. So enjoy a baseball film tonight!

 

 

 

 

 

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Dionysus

“Sugar” was an enjoyable watch.

Bluto

I liked it. Didn’t appreciate the big twist, but Colin F was/is great.

season two could go ina myriad of ways

Badger

Thanks Bear. Interesting read.

As a kid I loved both The Babe Ruth Story and Pride of the Yankees. As an adult I guess it would be Burns’ film, Major League and Field of Dreams.

I remember Jimmy Piersall. As a kid didn’t understand what his problem was but of course did later. I too saw him play for LA. He once led the league in a stat that Freddie Freeman has 0 for his career, the SH. Sacrifice bunt. Heck, even Babe Ruth used to do it. He had 114 in his career.

Phil Jones

Great stuff Bear. Very fun and nostalgic read. We had a video system on a team bus when I was coaching so I saw Major League 50 times. Still my favorite character was Harry Doyle, the team broadcaster, played by Bob Ucker. Before the first pitch of the first game, in the booth, he was pouring up a big tumble of straight Jack Daniels.
Besides Field of Dreams and Eight Men Out I like The Natural. Redford had some athletic skills.
Thanks

Oldbear48

Your welcome Phil. I also loved The Natural, even had a Roy Hobbs baseball card and a Knights jersey at one time. Eight Men Out was pretty good. Of course, Charlie Sheen had some skills. One of the best story lines was Bull Durham. Costner has made three baseball related films, Field of Dreams and For Love of the Game are the other two. For Love of the Game is notable because of Vin Scully’s appearance as the announcer. Bob Uecker should be declared a national treasure. His stories about his career are just classic. And seeing him and Bob Gibson holding hands in the Cardinals team photo was very funny. One movie I have only seen once but have on DVD is It’s Good to be Alive. It stars Lou Gossett and Paul Winfield. It is a made for TV movie that was made in 1974. Ruby Dee plays Roy’s wife Ruthie. Winfield is Campy and Gossett is Sam Brockington, his physical therapist. John Wayne’s son, Patrick, played Lou Gehrig in a TV production of Pride of the Yankees. And of course, The Sandlot is a good film too made so much better by the appearance of James Earl Jones as the blind ex-negro league player. “Georgie signed this? You’re not in trouble, your dead!” One of the best lines ever. I also thoroughly enjoyed Burt Lancaster’s turn as the aged Moonlight Graham. On my list also is Mr. Baseball. Selleck actually played some ball when he was young, and his line ” are you going to be impressed by a 500-foot homer?” That was pretty funny too.

Last edited 19 days ago by Oldbear48
Duke Not Snider

Burt Lancaster also played Jim Thorpe. If I recall correctly, there was a bit of baseball in that one… which, in real life, stigmatized Thorpe as a “professional” and cost him his Olympic gold.

Oldbear48

Jim Thorpe; All American. Yes, Lancaster was the star of the movie. While a student at Carlisle, Thorpe played for a semi-pro team to make money. He did that before the 1912 Olympics’ and when it was discovered, he was stripped of his medals. But he also played professional baseball with the Giants, Reds and Braves. He was in the majors for parts of 6 seasons. He had a career .252 avg in 289 games. He hit 7 homers in that span and drove in 82 runs. In the movie only hit time with the Giants is chronicled. His coach at Carlisle was the legendary Pop Warner.

SpokaneBob

Much like you Bear, I tried to watch every Baseball movie I could.
Even long forgotten ones like Safe at Home with Mantle and Maris in the early 60’s. Here are some that you didn’t list.

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976) with James Earl Jones, Billy Dee Williams and Richard Pryor.

Angels in the Outfield (1951) The original with Paul Douglas and Janet Leigh.

I also seem to recall a Baseball movie I saw in the 50’s starring Rubarb the Cat.

Anyone remember Alibi Ike (1935) with Joe E Brown?

Great write up Bear on a fun topic that brings back some good memories. Thank You

Oldbear48

There are a lot of them I did not list. Alibi Ike I did mention. But there is 61, which was directed by Billy Crystal, a lifelong Yankee fan documenting Maris’s 61 homer season. Maris was portrayed by Barry Pepper. Pepper was the sniper in Saving Private Ryan, and also portrayed Joe Galloway in We Were Soldiers. The original Angels in the Outfield was very good, Danny Glover was in the Disney remake with Tony Danza. It Happens Every Spring, with Ray Milland as a professor that develops a substance that is repellent to wood. So, it avoids bats when placed on a ball. One of my favorite Skelton movies, Whistling in Brooklyn, had a scene where Skelton, with a fake beard, is pitching for the House of David against the Dodgers. Another scene I loved was in Jerry Lewis’s Geshia Boy. The Japanese team is facing the 58 LA Dodgers. Several Dodgers are seen in the movie. Pee Wee, Gil Hodges, Snider, Neal, and Gino Cimoli. This article would have been a lot longer had I mentioned most of them.

Badger

Pepper played Pepper in True Grit. Great role. He’s good in everything.

Great article by Ardaya in The Athletic. He covers what we’ve been talking about; how good the top of the order is (arguably the best in baseball) how bad the bottom of the order is (arguably the worst in baseball), the Dodgers are 0-12 when the opposition scores 5 or more, have the most games where they allow 5 or less,and are second. Gavin Lux will be evaluated at 150 at bats, which will come shortly. “How much rope will Mookie be given at short?” Simply put – a lot. Outside of a no-brainer” trade for Adames or Bichette, Betts is the Dodgers shortstop.

Oldbear48

I like Pepper a lot. Another good role he had was in The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. He played the cavalry lieutenant. He was also in The Green Mile, Flags of Our Fathers, and he played RFK in The Kennedy’s miniseries. Firestorm with Howie Long, Enemy of the State with Will Smith, Battlefield Earth with Travolta, He played Dale Earnhart in a made for TV film about him. He was also in a movie I had almost forgotten about, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. A rather strange but well-done movie with Tommy Lee Jones.

Oldbear48

Reds lineup for tonight features just one hitter, Stephenson, hitting above .260. Other than De La Cruz, no one is hitting over .224. Paxton should be able to stifle this bunch.

Singing the Blue

Now, why did you want to go ahead and jinx us? 🙄

Oldbear48

Its my job.

Bumsrap

Way to go Bear. Geeze

Oldbear48

Whoopsie, but I think Ramirez and Paxton had a lot more to do with it than me. Three homers to a team that doesn’t hit them????? Left 11 men on base, with Ohtani not doing anything. His BA has dropped almost 20 points in this scoring lull.

Singing the Blue

Houston Mitchell at the LA Times posted some interesting stats today on former friends and what their 2024 seasons look like so far:

Yency Almonte, Chicago Cubs, 1-0, 3.45 ERA, on the IL
Tyler Anderson, Angels, 5-4, 2.52 ERA
Cody Bellinger, Chicago Cubs, .248/.327/.461, 122 OPS+
Michael Busch, Chicago Cubs, .242/.329/.450, 120 OPS+
Jonny DeLuca, Tampa Bay, .260/.362/.460, 137 OPS+
Caleb Ferguson, N.Y. Yankees, 0-3, 5.29 ERA
Victor González, N.Y. Yankees, 2-1, 2.45 ERA, 2 saves
Bryan Hudson, Milwaukee, 2-0, 0.68 ERA
Kenley Jansen, Boston, 1-1, 3.24 ERA, 8 saves
Craig Kimbrel, Baltimore, 4-1, 3.63 ERA, 9 saves
Lance Lynn, St. Louis, 2-2, 3.68 ERA
J.D. Martinez, N.Y. Mets, .294/.333/.435, 126 OPS+
Zach McKinstry, Detroit, .197/.289/.242, 55 OPS+
Shelby Miller, Detroit, 3-4, 4.41 ERA, on the IL
Ryan Pepiot, Tampa Bay, 3-2, 3.98 ERA
David Peralta, 0 for 2, 1 RBI
Luke Raley, Seattle, .300/.330/.464, 131 OPS+
Amed Rosario, Tampa Bay, .294/.308/.412, 107 OPS+
Corey Seager, Texas, .253/.346/.404, 115 OPS+
Trayce Thompson, in the minors with N.Y. Mets
Justin Turner, Toronto, .225/.304/.373, 95 OPS+
Trea Turner, Philadelphia, .343/.392/.460, 145 OPS+
Alex Verdugo, N.Y. Yankees, .254/.325/.422, 111 OPS+

So it seems fairly clear to me that we can solve a lot of our problems by trading Outman and Pages for Raley and DeLuca, CT3 for Amed Rosario, Elieser Hernandez for Bryan Hudson, and Lux for Busch (caution: sarcasm flag raised).

Last edited 19 days ago by Singing the Blue
Bumsrap

I wanted to keep DeLuca and convert him to a third baseman.

No love for Joc? .313.409.557.966

Badger

DeLuca. Me too.

Not really. I look for Joc to fade.

Oldbear48

Joc is strictly a DH now. Even AZ isn’t dumb enough to play him in the outfield.

Singing the Blue

Drew Pomeranz asked for his release from OKC yesterday.
Today he signed a major league deal with the Giants.
I was really hoping Andrew would see fit to bring him to LA (stuck out 5 in 2 innings a couple of days ago) but I guess he has his reasons.

Jeff Dominique

Nope. I am sure his reasons were that he was not going to get to LA anytime soon. Apparently, AF preferred Yohan Ramirez. I do not believe AF thinks the Dodgers have a reliever problem. He knows he can find the likes of Connor Brogden, Yohan Ramirez, Eduardo Salazar, Elieser Hernandez, Andre Jackson, Wander Suero, Taylor Scott, Dylan Covey, Tyson Miller, Phil Bickford, Justin Bruihl, Jake Reed, Nabil Crismatt…anytime he wants. Why spend prospect capital when you might be able to find another Evan Phillips on the waiver wire.

Last edited 19 days ago by Jeff Dominique
Bluto

Yes. Why trade for Mason Miller when you can get 70% of his value for almost nothing.

Jeff Dominique

I am not sure what you are trying to say. I am not on the Mason Miller bandwagon.

Bluto

Oh. Was trying to reinforce your point, no other reason for Miller’s name being used.

Singing the Blue

When I said “I guess he has his reasons” I was referring to Andrew, not Pomeranz. I’m sure you’re right and that AF told him he wasn’t getting here anytime soon.

He wouldn’t have cost us any prospects, has lots of MLB experience and some good success at the MLB level. I would have definitely taken a chance on him but I’ll leave it to Andrew to manipulate the roster.

Jeff Dominique

Oh. My bad. Well AF’s reasons were that he wanted Yohan Ramirez over Drew Pomeranz.

Singing the Blue

Based on what I just saw from Ramirez, I think I may have to start questioning Andrew’s judgement. 😂

13 pitches, 1 strike, 2 hit batters.
Paxton probably wants to punch someone. Just can’t decided if it’s going to be Doc or Ramirez.

Last edited 19 days ago by Singing the Blue
OhioDodger

And Vesia spits the bit.

Jeff Dominique

Not in a place where I can watch. I am guessing Drew Pomeranz would have been a better option than Ramirez?

OhioDodger

We will never know. But, yeah.

Singing the Blue

I would have been a better option than Ramirez.

Bumsrap

It would have taken you less time pitching to your minimum of 3 hitters.

Last edited 19 days ago by Bumsrap
Oldbear48

13 pitches, 12 balls. The only strike he threw was when Smith went out to talk to him. This guy needs to go ASAP.

OhioDodger

Game is in the balance Doc, use a high leverage reliever. The game is not always decided in the 9th inning.
Seems to me, Doc should have used one of his more high leverage relievers in that situation..

Badger

Doc using the relievers Friedman gives him. Bad idea? Hey it’s the Reds. They can’t hit water from a boat, right?

OhioDodger

Vesia is not the guy to bring in with runners on in a crucial situation. Even I know that.

Bluto

It was and is a tough (thankfully temporary) situation.

With the injuries Roberts only has Vesia, Grove, Treinen and Hudson he can count on right now. When Paxton couldn’t push late into the game Roberts had to try and buy time with temporary guys. Ramirez didn’t have it. Nerves? Lack of talent?

Dunno.

The fact that the team is managing starter loads and brought up Knack and company recently only magnified the situation.

Oldbear48

That is ridiculous. Vesia has been nails his last several outings. He hangs one pitch, and he is the bum??? Cmon, Ramirez sucked and put them into a bad situation.

Jeff

FO is looking pretty shabby regarding their BP and pitching, in general. Auditions from pitchers who don’t seem to have much going for them. Re-treads. AF loves re-treads. No farm to help out. Running on zero.

Badger

Some pitchers should be returning soon. Hopefully that will help. Vesia had looked better of late but he sure blew it today. And what can be said about Ramirez? This is the guy AF wanted? And Paxton was awful too. 5 earned in 4.2

I said early and often this team has to hit. But when a weak ass offensive team like the Reds scores 9 even hitting won’t help much. Padres and dbacks both lost so there is still a decent lead to work with.

Last edited 19 days ago by Badger
Oldbear48

Vesia did not blow it. The guys who allowed the bases to get loaded blew it.

Badger

He kinda did Bear. IR-A% is a thing and an important stat for a reliever. Add to that his own ERA shot up. 4 runs came across with him standing on the mound.

Oldbear48

I disagree. Vesia made one bad pitch. Several bad ones by Ramirez and Paxton that set the inning up. Yeah, they scored four runs on one pitch, but only one was charged to Vesia. He gets the blame, but the other two guys totally failed in their jobs, especially Ramirez.

Oldbear48

I think Ramirez pitched his way right off of the roster. Three game losing streak which means fans will be going bat nuts and suggesting Roberts should be fired. Ohtani reverted last night to trying to do too much instead of waiting for his pitch. Rolling over on pitches or popping up on the first pitch.

Jeff

I think Roberts should be fired, don’t you?

Oldbear48

No, Dave just puts in who he is given. I don’t think Roberts is in control once the player takes his spot on the field. I never blame the manager for poor performance by a player.

Jeff

I was being facetious because you mentioned that someone will mention firing Roberts, so I volunteered. But the more I think about it, it can’t hurt to fire Roberts. He is a robot and we need an innovator.

Duke Not Snider

“Bang the Drum Slowly” is in my top ten baseball films easily, maybe top five. A small film, but one of the first big roles for DeNiro.
Remarkably, I’ve never seen “Major League” from start to finish, but a lot of clips.
My number one is “Bull Durham.”
Not sure what my number two is, but I have a soft spot for “Damn Yankees.” When it came on the old Million Dollar Movie series on Channel 9, I’d watch it day after day.
The mythic, even mystical quality of baseball is celebrated in “Field of Dreams,” “The Natural” and “Damn Yankees.”
Good thing that the Dodgers are so good now. No reason for anybody hear to sell their soul to the devil to help the team.
One of the cool things about “Bang the Drum Slowly” was who it depicted an early-60s era when players had second jobs in the off season. As I recall it, the star pitcher sold insurance.

Last edited 18 days ago by Duke Not Snider
Oldbear48

I have all three Major League movies on disc. The second one wasn’t all that good, but the third one where they were in the minors was decent. Bull Durham is a favorite among players. Damn Yankees! It was a stage play and the only change in the cast in the movie was Tab Hunter playing Joe Hardy. Gwen Verdon, who was also in the Cocoon movies as Don Ameches girlfriend, reprised her role as Lola, and Ray Walston was the devil. Walston was noted for playing Uncle Martin on My Favorite Martian. Moriarty’s character did indeed sell insurance in the off-season. Ross Stripling is also a stockbroker. I loved Mr. Baseball. It is well done.

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