Last week's movie, Bull Durham, was for the grownups. This week I've got one for the kiddies, Rookie of the Year.
(It's interesting that the studio used a picture of Oakland Coliseum in the background instead of Wrigley Field)
And what's not to love about a movie that features the Cubs?
The story is pretty simple: Twelve year old Henry Rowengartner loves baseball but is the worst player on his team. He breaks his arm and when the cast is removed four months later, the tendons have healed too tightly. He discovers he can throw a ball 100 miles an hour. The sad-sack Cubs discover this too, and sign him to boost attendance.
The rest of the movie tells of Henry's adventures on the field as he helps lead the Cubs to the brink of a division championship. When he looses his ability to throw smoke, he comes up with a plan to get the last three outs, and with his baseball-playing mom's help, he gets the Cubs the division title.
Of course, the movie is fantasy. So I can't harp on how they play loose with the facts (like ignoring the major league age minimum of 16). It's just a fun movie to watch on a cold winter night.
One of the stars of the film is Wrigley Field. Much of the game action was filmed there. I remember when they were making the movie and the producers put out a call for extras to fill the park for game scenes. Most of those were shot in October, 1992, after the season. It was cold by then, and in a few scenes you can see the breath of the actors. Also, because of the fall shoot, fake green ivy was placed on the walls.
You can see the fake ivy in the background here. Notice that they hung it in front of the baskets, which are gone!
Another part of the film follows Henry on his first road trip, to Los Angeles. Those scenes were filled on the south side, at the then new Comiskey Park.
In this picture, you can see the blue, metal hitter's background that Comiskey had when it opened in 1991. The pitcher for the Dodgers in these scenes was the only former big leaguer in the movie.
This is Tim Stoddard, who spent some time with the Cubs, among other teams.
A few other current big leaguers had cameos in the movie, getting blown away by Henry's 100 MPH heat. They were
Pedro Guerrero (who's final big league season was 1992)
and the future home run king himself, Barry Bonds.
But the highlight of the movie for me was the very last scene, when Henry shows off a little jewelry he won...
...a World Series ring. I know, the movie is a fantasy; but I can dream, can't I??