It happens every spring

April 18, 2014

Accusations of cheating on the diamond.

The New York Yankees’ starting pitcher Michael Pineda garnered a lot of attention when he was accused of adding a foreign substance to the ball in a 4-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on April 10.

This just happened to come right around the time I watched the classic 1949 baseball feature, It Happens Every Spring.

Long story short, Ray Milland plays a baseball-crazy college professor who creates a solution that repels wood. He accidentally discovers it can prevent a bat from hitting a ball and he’s off to get a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals (under the pseudonym of Kelly) to help them win the pennant and, subsequently, the World Series.

He does this for the princely sum of $1,000 per win (he doesn’t get paid if he loses), all so he can earn enough to marry his sweetheart, the daughter of his mentor at the university.

So basically, Kelly is applying a foreign substance to the ball that makes it do physically impossible things. Yet no one every bothers to check him out? This supposedly takes place long after doctoring the ball was prohibited. I know this is pure baseball fantasy, but come on, people!

In a telling moment, Kelly has this farewell exchange with his catcher, Monk:

Kelly: “[t]he sum of money I received for teaching science to the youth of this state for an entire year was a little less than I got in a single afternoon of tossing a five-ounce sphere past a young man holding a wooden stick.

Monk: “But that ain’t right, Kelly. If it weren’t forĀ  professors teaching the kids, everybody would turn out to be dumb clucks. Like me.”

Are you trying to tell us college professors got less than $1,000 per year?? That seems most inaccurate. But in a case of “everything old is new again,” how often have we heard about errant priorities where pampered athletes get millions of bucks while teachers, working under terrible conditions, barely scrape by? And remember, IHES came out over 50 years ago.

By the way, Paul Douglas, who played the catcher, Monk, was in another highly regarded baseball movie, the original Angels in the Outfield. Also appearing: Alan Hale Jr. who would go on to fame and fortune as The Skipper on Gilligan’s Island.


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