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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The forgotten brilliance and influence of ‘Little Big League’

Ron Gardenhire should not have made this movie.

From the beginning, “Little Big League” looked destined to fail — and that’s not just because Pincus wanted to make a movie about the Royals. Pincus was an aspiring screenwriter with zero credits to his name. He had grown up on the East Coast, and relocated to Los Angeles to chase a career in Hollywood. But by the early 1990s, not much had materialized.

But there was one idea in his head, something that sounded fun. What if a kid managed a big-league baseball team? What if a kid ran a baseball team. So in late 1990, more than three years before the movie would arrive in theaters, Pincus went to work on a script. But first, he needed a team. As a child in the mid 1970s, he had been a fan of Royals infielders Freddy Patek and Cookie Rojas, the forefathers of the Royals glory years.

“Some of my favorite baseball cards,” Pincus says.

So it was settled. It couldn’t be a big-market club like New York or Los Angeles. It had to be small.

Billy Heywood would manage the Kansas City Royals…

So if you don’t mind a spoiler from a 20-year-old baseball movie, you might want to know about the final scene. You might want to know that the Twins lose. In the bottom of the ninth, Lou Collins hits a deep drive to center, and then Griffey robs the would-be home run, and the Twins lose.

Twenty years later, Pincus can’t remember all the details about the movie he wrote. But he can tell you this: The Twins always lost.

“It always ended that way,” Pincus says, “and it’s okay to lose. Only one team wins.”

Yes, it should have been the Royals.

 


Monday, April 21, 2014

ESPN: W. P. Kinsella: Where It Began: “Shoeless Joe”

Reflections on the 25th Anniversary of Field of Dreams:

I replied that to me, writing a novel was akin to a baker baking a loaf of bread: So long as the buyers pay for the bread, they were free to do with it as they chose. If they made dainty sandwiches, fine. If they fed it to their gerbils, fine. I realized that most books optioned for movies became gerbil food. I’ve never understood authors who are proprietary with their work, fighting any changes of plot or character. All I care about is being properly paid.

“Field of Dreams” was a stunning exception. I wept when I read the finished screenplay. “This is my own work doing this to me,” I said. “How can this happen?”
. . .
I loved the movie. Novels and movies are entirely different art forms. I don’t see how Phil Robinson could have done a better job of successfully transferring one to the other.

How have things changed in the past 25 years since the release of the movie? Fathers and sons still bond playing catch, still attend baseball games together, still share warm and luminous memories of games and players gone but not forgotten.

I have received letters from every part of the world, mainly from younger men, about how the ending of the movie affected them. Moved by those final scenes, men traveled, often thousands of miles, to take their fathers to baseball games, or just to have a catch in the backyard.

Much more in TFA.


 

 

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