A Look Back at The Rookie

Today,
we look at Disney’s The Rookie (2002).  Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) and written by Mike Rich (Secretariat),
The Rookie tells the story of
real-life Major League Pitcher, Jim Morris. 
A High School Chemistry Teacher and Baseball Coach, Morris is looking for
a way to inspire his kids.  He promises
his team that if they can win the
championship, he’ll go to the professional tryout they’ve been bugging him
about.  The kids win and he reluctantly goes
to the tryout expecting to be cut immediately. 
There’s only one problem.  Morris
throws 12 consecutive pitches at 98 miles an hour and he’s signed by the then
Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The Rookie follows Morris (played by the
exceptionally rugged Dennis Quaid) on his unconventional road from the
classroom to the majors and all of the challenges in between.  He still has a family to take care for on a
Minor Leaguer’s salary, which for those of you keeping score is far from a Major Leaguer’s salary.  Oh, and did I mention that he’s 35?  If he gets injured once, it’s all over. If you don’t tear up when he sees his name
sewn onto his jersey at the Ballpark at Arlington for the first time, you have
no soul.  (Please note: I teared up while
typing that sentence.)

The
real Morris lasted two seasons in the Major Leagues.  He had a 4.80 ERA and struck out 42 guys in a
162-game career.  That’s not Hall of Fame
numbers, but that’s still two more seasons than you or I ever pitched in the
Majors.  Today, Morris is justifiably a
motivational speaker.

The Rookie employs all of the hackney
stereotypes of a Disney movie: sweeping shots, a swelling soundtrack and lighting
that always makes the female lead (Rachel Griffiths in this case) look amazing. 
Nonetheless, in regards to this movie, I fall for all of it.  Who wouldn’t? 
Apparently you can still “wish upon a star”, even at the ripe old age of
35.

It’s
hard to look on this movie with any cynicism. 
At its core, it’s a beautiful story about making your dreams come true.
It’s got a strong cast, including the kid from Two and a Half Men (before
he was afraid to go to work) and most importantly… it’s a great excuse to watch of a montage of a sweaty Dennis Quaid
pitching in the rain.  

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One comment

  1. raysrenegade

    Got to know Jim Morris in that last part of the 1999 season, and his dedication to his High School team with gathering used gear, bats, and caps to give his former players the tools to succeed impressed me totally.
    He was not as good looking as Dennis Quaid, but the passion he had for the game and for his family were transported perfectly onto the big screen. If you ever wondered who the other Durham Bulls player really was that also got called up that day, it was former Yankee OF Randy Winn.
    Great inspirational story, even if it was a Disney flick.

    Rays Renegade
    http://raysrenegade.mlblogs.com

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