Opinions run wild when it comes to the best movies of all time. Some like dramas. Some prefer comedies. Others action/adventure. Every one has a different taste. So, when I say my favorite movie of all time is The Natural, some may scoff. Some may even agree. But for me it’s a two fold reason.
Number one: I am a baseball junkie. I live, eat and breathe baseball. It has been a passion of mine since I could hold a ball and this movie encompasses everything that I wanted to be when I grew up…”When I walk down the street, I want people to say, ‘There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in the game'”.
Number two: The movie was released in 1984 (I was one). But my dad and I watched it the night before every single Opening Day that I ever played from when I was six years old through now. I went through a period of time, as most teenagers do, that I thought this tradition was silly, but it was a way for my dad and I to bond. He’d try and go line for line with me, but mix up the words…ie, “You can’t pronounce it, but it tastes good” when the line is actually, “You cant spell it, but it eats pretty good”. That’s just one example. Even through college when I was away from home, we would call each other to sync up when to push play on the VCR which transitioned into DVD.
When I finished my playing career and got into broadcasting, we’d watch it before the team’s opening day that I was working for. If we were on the road, I’d bring the DVD, pop it in the computer and watch it from a hotel room. It’s a tradition I make time for. My wife, at the time when we first met almost nine years ago, thought we were crazy (my mother even thinks so too), but she’s jumped on the bandwagon and will watch along now, just as long as I limit my quotes (because I could recite the whole thing pretty close to word for word).
Needless to say, the movie holds a special place in my heart as I get long winded with my explanation of why it’s my favorite movie of all time.
To the point (finally)…In our recent trip to Buffalo, the Bisons Hall of Fame has monthly themes. August’s theme…The Natural.
One of their long time fans has collected numerous pieces of memorabilia from the movie, which was filmed mostly in Buffalo at War Memorial Stadium (which has since been torn down).
As I learned of this exhibit, I got a little excited to say the least. Bisons broadcaster Ben Wagner and Public Relations Director Brad Bisbing allowed me into the Hall of Fame before the gates opened and I had my own private tour of all the great items.
Intermixed with the photos, I’ll provide a few of my favorite quotes from the movie…just because.
Roy Hobbs: Red, it took me sixteen years to get here. You play me, and I’ll give ya the best I got.
Pop Fisher (manager): Batting practice tomorrow, be there!
Roy Hobbs: I have been. Every day.
Pop Fisher: Come on, Fowler! Throw strikes!
Red: Fowler’s killing worms, Pop.
The Whammer: That guy’s throwing spit balls out there.
Sam Simpson (scout): A pig’s poop, that ball’s as dry as your grand daddy’s scalp.
Roy Hobbs: I remember signing a contract, to play ball not to be put to sleep by some two bit carney hypnotist! I won’t do that Pop! I can’t.
Psychiatrist: Losing is a disease…as contagious as Bubonic Plague….Ah, but curable…
Pop Fisher: My ma urged me to get out of this game. When I was a kid, she pleaded with me. And I meant to, you know what I mean? But she died.
Red Blow: Tough.
Pop Fisher: Now look at me. I’m wet nurse to a last-place, dead-to-the-neck-up ball club, and I’m choking to death!
Pop Fisher: You know my mama wanted me to be a farmer.
Roy Hobbs: My dad wanted me to be a baseball player.
Pop Fisher: Well you’re better than any player I ever had. And you’re the best God damn hitter I ever saw. Suit up.
Ed Hobbs (Roy’s Dad): You’ve got a gift Roy… but it’s not enough – you’ve got to develop yourself. If you rely too much on your own gift then you’ll fail. (also my senior quote from high school)
To say that I was in awe would be an understatement. I reverted back to being a 5 or 6 year old kid looking at some of those relics. The LIFE poster….the actual baseball held by the “Nebraska farm boy with blazing left handed speed”…the actual jacket Redford wore?!? I mean, come on…I had goose bumps.
This may not interest many, but I know I’ll have at least two people hooked…obviously myself, but my dad as well. It was a special few minutes in that Hall of Fame snapping pictures and learning the history of Buffalo baseball.
I even had a chance to chat with Duke McGuire, current Bisons #2 radio broadcaster, who was in the movie and was the baseball advisor throughout the filming. That interview is below.
As my sister would say, “I geeked out”. It was a great honor to be there and I couldn’t thank Brad, Ben and Duke for all of their time and sharing all this great memorabilia. It honestly made the entire trip.
If you haven’t seen the movie, well, maybe I motivated you a little bit to see it.
Thanks for reading, listening and looking!