The Next Great Baseball Movie Report

After the success of “42”, the great Rob Neyer on asked a number of experts as to what baseball movies should come next?

  • Allen Barra: The funniest baseball movie never made is the story of Bill Veeck; he even left us with a great title, Veeck as in Wreck.
  • Bill James: With a little luck, there is a very powerful movie within the story of Cap Anson.
  • Bob Costas: Here’s the movie I’d like to see, although it would be a tough one to do well: a biopic of Barry B*nds. (what the hell is he thinking?)
  • Brian Kenny: Leo Durocher seems like an interesting guy to me.
  • John Thorn: Well, gosh I would like to see a movie about Albert Spalding, his World Tour, his romances, his illegitimate son who was farmed out, renamed, and adopted; his shrewish wife and the Theosophical movement and Madame Blavatsky (and Abner Doubleday!) and the fraudsters who tried to hijack the history of baseball.
  • Joe Posnanski: Well, of course the next big baseball movie should be about Buck O’Neill, right? Morgan Freeman as Buck. I have it all plotted out.
  • Rob Neyer: I think Roberto Clemente‘s life would make for an amazing movie.

I waited and waited to be asked but I guess Rob lost my email address

So today was the most appropriate day to give my answers.

Yes, I have two.

Arguably, he was baseball’s greatest hitter.

He hit 521 homers, batted .344 and had 1839 RBI. He won two Triple Crowns. His .483 on-base percentage is baseball’s best, with Babe Ruth second at .474. In slugging percentage, his .634 trails only Ruth’s .690. His .406 average in 1941 is the last time a player hit over .400 in a season.

Yes, we need a Ted Williams bio-pic.

The Splendid Splinter was more than a great baseball player.  He was a Navy pilot in World War II (1943-45) and flew combat missions for the Marines in the Korean War (1952 and 1953).

As Boston’s local sports station host a Jimmy Fund telethon, it was Ted’s charitable work with children that made it one of the great charities to contribute to.

His charitable work for children made him an institution in New England.

In 7,706 at-bats, Williams struck out only 709 times, yet he was hated as much as he was loved by Boston fans and media.

In his final at bat, he homered and went straight into the dugout ignoring the plaintive cries of fans who wanted to salute him. But, the author John Updike brilliantly wrote, “Gods don’t answer letters.”

And now, as his head cryogenically awaits re-attachment, it and I await the movie: Ted Williams – American Hero

And now for something completely different…

I never met Ted, but I did meet my next suggestion for a baseball bio-pic. I spent a half hour with this guy and I’m sure like thousands before me, I fell in love with Tug McGraw.

Yes, Tug McGraw the very lefty relief pitcher who when asked how what he thought about the new invention called “AstroTurf” compared to real grass, Tug said, “I don’t know, I never smoked AstroTurf”

Tug was once asked what he would do with his salary, “Ninety percent I’ll spend on good times, women and Irish whiskey. The other 10 percent I’ll probably waste.”

“On my first day of kindergarten, the teacher called the roll and when she finished she said, ‘Is there anyone whose name I didn’t call?” I raised my hand. ‘My name is Tug McGraw,’ I said. She looked at the roll and said, ‘I have a Frank McGraw.’ I said, ‘No, that’s my dad. He already went to kindergarten.’”

Tug was the starting pitcher when he became the first Met to defeat Sandy Koufax.

He was a member of the 1969 Miracle Mets that came from behind the Chicago Cubs and went all the way through the World Series to defeat the Baltimore Orioles.

He was the inspiration of the 1973 New York Mets telling his teammates, “Ya Gotta Believe” which certainly could be the title of his movie.

M. Donald Grant, the hideous Mets Chairman of the Board, addressed the Mets players in July as the team was struggling. According to his SABR bio, Tug adapted a John Belushi Animal House persona in the midst of this long, emotionless “pep” talk.

Matthew Silverman writes, “The reliever could only contain himself so long when he heard the saying. He later admitted that Grant “took 20 minutes for him to say what should have taken five,” and McGraw started shouting his new mantra. He “stopped the speech in its tracks. I jumped and ran around to a couple of lockers, grabbing guys and yelling, ‘Do you believe? Ya gotta believe!’ ” While some of his teammates were laughing, Grant wasn’t. He marched out of the Shea locker room “with his entourage of suits behind him.”

Battling numerous odds, behind Tug’s battle cry, this Mets team clinched the division crown on the final day of the season.

And his brilliance out of the 1980 Phillies bullpen earned him the votes to fifth in Cy Young balloting and sixteenth for NL MVP.

But it was that banging of his glove on his thigh that was the heartbeat for the Phillies World Championship that season.

He retired appropriately on Valentine’s Day, 1985, after 19 big-league seasons, “I’ve had a love affair with baseball,” he said. “The game stole my heart, and I was never a jilted suitor.”

Let’s not forget Tug’s daily comic strip called “Scroogie,” a nickname for his screwball pitch and persona, my choice for the film’s title.

The music for this film will be provided by Tug’s son Tim McGraw. They were estranged until Tim was 17 but became close in the years preceding Tug’s death.

Yes, Tug’s death from a 2003 brain tumor will make this film a tear jerker.

“Ya Gotta Believe” is the name for The Tug McGraw Foundation established in 2003 to enhance the quality of life of children and adults with brain tumors.

I’ll see you at the movies

Ted was born on August 30, 1918
Tug was born on August 30, 1944