I had the opportunity to watch Big Leaguer yesterday. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I can get a little cynical at times, but I was pleasantly surprised by this modest endeavor about young athletes at a New York Giants try-out camp, led by Edward G. Robinson as a kind-but-firm former Major Leaguer. Sure it was a bit dated. The conceit of the sportswriter serving as narrator is a bit cliched, reminiscent of Terrance Mann’s “People will come” monologue in Field of Dreams, as was the son-of-an-immigrant-dad who doesn’t want to let on that he’s a ballplayer, even though he’s really, really good at it. The dialogue, too, was a bit 50s “golly-gee.” I don’t want to give too much more away. I highly recommend spending the time watching the whole thing on Youtube, as I wrote in the previous post.
Jim Baker at BaseballNation picks up on a few of these quirks, including the appearance of the wasp-waisted Vera-Ellen as the obligatory love interest (and that’s not my usual typo; her name is actually hyphenated), who looks like she’d be more at home in a grade C sci-fi movie as an emotionless alien princess.
I did not realize when composing yesterday’s post that in addition to the pro ballplayers who appeared as themselves, you also had Hall of Famer Carl Hubbard as a baseball executive. He’s no Laurence Olivier (not even Carl Weathers), but he did a decent enough job. I found the character of Chuy Aguilar, a Cuban who was never without a little dictionary, interesting. Contrary to reality, his teammates/competition seemed to welcome hi with open arms. And you might recognize William Campbell, who played an “insecure braggart,” from a couple roles on the original Star Trek series. The baseball action was fair enough, although mostly done in long shots so you couldn’t see if the actual actors had any real athletic skill.
All that angst for a $150 a month contract. Heh.