96th best baseball movie of all-time – JOE TORRE: CURVEBALLS ALONG THE WAY, 1997

Cable TV networks like to produce wanky films that attempt to tug at your heartstrings. There are about two dozen of them made every year. They are always done on the cheap and usually are about a real-life story of some kind so people are already familiar with the particulars. Before Cable, the original networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) would all have their movie-of-the-week and a story like Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way, would be made.

The formula is to bring in one or two B-list stars who the population is familiar with but the networks can still hire on the cheap. Then when an event like say “A Long-Island teen who shoots her lover’s wife, who has a name we all remember like, say, Buttafuoco.” happens, you have to write the script, hire the crew, and get this movie made as soon as possible before people forget about it, or the particulars of the story change. It’s a sprint to get the movie done and on the airwaves within 9 months after the event has occurred.

Unfortunately, this is not the best way to make a great film. Sometimes the networks get lucky, like Brian’s Song (1971) which became a monster hit even before it’s stars James Caan and Billy Dee Williams became household names. But generally these movies kind of stink because the writing is too obvious, the production value is low, and there really isn’t a point to the movie other than they are recreating what the population already knows.

In the case of Joe Torre: Curveballs Along the Way, this is the case. BTW – What a terrible title. It’s so insulting.

Torre, had an interesting year in 1996. He took the team he was managing, the New York Yankees, to the World Series while his older brother was in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant. Interesting, but I don’t think a profound enough story to make into a film?!

The film was made because the networks thought they could make money from it. That’s usually the bottomline. In reality, no one needs to see this film. For the people who already know the story, they don’t tell us anything we don’t already know – which was the most disappointing thing of all. And for the people who don’t know the story, I don’t think they really care.

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98th best Baseball Movie of all time – HEADIN HOME, 1920

Headin Home is the fictionalized version of how Babe Ruth became Babe Ruth. Of course, as in most propaganda/promotion videos about a person or organization, none of it is really true.

1920 was an interesting time as Babe Ruth just got “traded” to the New York Yankees from the Boston Red Sox. He was becoming one of the great players in the game and the Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee, who was more interested in Broadway Plays than baseball, basically sold Ruth to the Yankees for $100,000 so he could produce a Musical, which eventually went bankrupt. He needed the money and the Yankees were more than happy to give it to him in exchange for Ruth.

So before Ruth played a game for the Yankees, he starred as the fictionalized version of himself in this silent film. It was a great way to promote the legend of Babe Ruth to jump start his Yankee career.

In the film, Ruth was born and raised in a small town and wasn’t very good at baseball in his childhood years. In reality, Ruth was born and raised in the big city of Baltimore and was a natural at the sport from the moment he picked up his first bat. But that didn’t translate well for most of the kids around America, so they changed the narrative.

The film really isn’t all that great because there really isn’t any sort of conflict in it. A boy (Ruth) gets mad at his peers for them making fun of his lack of baseball skills, so he takes out his anger when he’s up to bat and hits a gigantic home run. From there, he becomes great and turns into a major league baseball player. He finds love, marries, and all is dandy. That is the story.

The film did poor at the box office and Ruth made the biggest error of them all. He was paid $25,000 for the film, which is about $280,000 today, but he never cashed the check. He just had it in his wallet for months so he could take it out and brag about it to his cronies. When he finally went to the bank to cash the check, it bounced because the Film Studios went bankrupt because of the lack of box office from the film.

And that’s the best story of Headin Home. Watch if you’re a fan of baseball history and Babe Ruth.

97 more baseball movies to go.

– Matthew Toffolo