Do you have just a brief moment to travel back with me to younger days? To a time when anything was possible… and we dreamed that, if we just played our cards right, we were destined to be on the mound in game seven of the World Series. We could, without irony or doubt, visualize the glory of honing in on the catcher’s sign, watching under the bright lights as the pitch sailed towards home plate out of our hand, and thudding into the catcher’s mitt, striking out the last batter to win it all.
Let’s return to a place in the mists of nearly departed time when – if only we were to have a freak arm injury – we could throw one hundred and three miles an hour. It’s a voyage back to a film that people often seem to confuse with ‘The Sandlot’, ‘Angels in the Outfield’, or that one with the kid who inherits the Minnesota Twins… but was in fact one of the most formative cultural experiences of many of our childhoods’: “Rookie of the Year”.
Humorously enough, that trailer up there pretty much does justice to the entire story of the film. If it were just a matter of storytelling potential, then you probably wouldn’t need to watch Rookie of the Year if you’d already glimpsed the previews.
But yet, the glory of Rookie of the Year is in the truth bombs it detonates again & again as the movie-films’ characters go about their lives. While 12 year old Henry Rowengartner interacts with the adults in his newly acquired superstar realm, some remarkable wisdom becomes to pour from the heavens.
Here, prepared especially for you, are the ten most profound truths the film imparted to me…
# 10 – Always Invest the Time Necessary to Find the Toy in the Cracker Jack Box
The Cubs evil General Manger – ‘Fish’ – is always intent on finding ways to make money. Granted, the Cubs are in terrible fiscal straights and, with attendance drooping, it appears the team may need to be sold unless things can be shaken up in a big way.
Yet the team’s owner, Mr. Carson, understands that there are more important things in life than cold, hard cash. While Fish plots a plan to save the team, Carson raps on the window of the Wrigley Field owners box to declare with glee…
It’s the simple things man. The simple things.
#9 – You’ll Know You’ve Arrived When You Are Given Massive Bags of Food & Candy at Hotels
Ladies and gentlemen, photo evidence…
#8 – Always Have a Back up Plan
This truth bomb intersects with a great mystery addressed at the end of the film – the origin of Henry’s baseball glove & hardball background.
Henry’s eventual employment of the ‘floater pitch’ is foreshadowed when the Cubs depart the Chicago airport on their initial road trip & his mother utilizes the technique to garner Henry his forgotten sunblock. After witnessing mom’s remarkable technique, Brickma declares…
“I ain’t seen the floater pitch since Scuffy Mcgee!”
When Henry mysteriously loses his physical pitching powers as the result of a freak leap / fall in the season’s final, all important game to determine whether Chicago will advance to the playoffs, he is seemingly on the brink of certain defeat.
But then the 12 year old telepathically learns it was his mother all along who was the softball star of the family and accedes to her suggestion that he ‘float it’ to defeat his nemesis – Heddo of the New York Mets.
Gif via Buzzfeed
#7 – It’s Key to Develop a Rapport with the Hotel Staff
You never know when you’ll need them to rescue you from being trapped between double doors…
#6 – When Your Best Friend Becomes Way More Significant Than You Globally — Despair
By the time the Henry Rowengartner train really starts steaming, he’s appearing on magazine covers, in Pepsi commercials, and generally obtaining superstar status.
Henry’s pal George, whose undeniable charisma we’ll speak of more in a moment, begins to behold this change in light of Henry’s lack of time investment in their friendship and aptly declares…
“Let’s go back to our dull lives and search for meaning.”
Sometimes you need to just get it out there and let the healing begin.
#5 – Just Because Something Can’t Possibly Work Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Get Paid to Tell Others It Absolutely Will
The Cubs’ pitching coach and – by acclimation – the greatest character in the film, Dale Brickma, is described by Manager Sal Martinela as being in his position as a result of following the manager around after an unfortunate minor league beaning. Though next-to-nothing Brickma ever says makes sense at first blush, you soon develop an appreciation for the zeal with which he believes it all to be true.
In a particularly revealing exchange on pitching practices that’s detailed even further later in this list, Brickma states the following in regards to caring for one’s pitching shoulder…
“Now. After practice… a lot of guys like to ice up their arms. Others – feel that heat… is the best way. But I have discovered the secret Henry…
After having observed the work of various, handsomely paid, media consultants, I’m quite convinced I’m not the first person to have picked up on this particular truth bomb.
#4 – It is possible to become stuck between those hotel double doors in a perfect storm scenario.
With the Cubs on their first road trip of the season, Brickma takes Henry under his wing and decides to teach him the tricks of the trade. This leads to a humorous discussion about saving airplane food in hotel fridges. It also finds the pitching coach teaching Henry the importance of time management…
“Punctuality Henry. Without it… time stands still.”
Unfortunately, Henry takes that last lesson a bit too much to heart as he departs for the evening’s game even before Brickma. When the coach attempts to knock on the door of Henry’s adjoining room, the worst happens. He becomes wedged between the doors.
I’ve never felt quite safe around those room-to-room, double hotel doors since this moment.
#3 – Your Dream Girl Might Just Be Attainable
We first glimpse Henry’s dream girl, Becky Fraker, in the stands when the young little league bench warmer enters the game for his Pirates squad in place of his asthmatic teammate Windemeare. She already appears to be affectionately pulling for him based on her facial expressions. Unfortunately, Henry – playing outfield – promptly throws a fly ball hit by the other team over the fence. But there was still hope.
Following Henry’s unforeseen acquisition of baseball mega-talent & his so-so debut at Wrigley, he returns to school. George indicates at lunch that his friend should consider speaking with Becky Fraker, to which Henry responds with…
“We have nothing in common! Besides… she’s not that hot…”
George shoots that down with his trademark zest…
“Not that hot?!… Just look at her sipping that milk! Milk’s done that body good!”
After the conclusion of this significant discussion on human gender interaction, Becky calls to him across the lunch room. After initial misgivings, a train of events is set in motion whereby their romance is kindled. And hope springs eternal in the human soul.
Also! By the way… an extra truth bomb here… Becky Fraker and Julie the Cat Gaffney from the Mighty Ducks films are the same young woman! Well the same actress anyway… how did I not know this as a pre-teen?! The mind cannot contain the truth-iness.
#2 – Charisma Overcomes
Henry’s best friend George is one of the hidden gems of the film. This kid was unstoppable. People say President Obama got by on charisma, but that cat has nothing on George.
In the aforementioned epic encounter in the school lunch room after Henry’s first major league game, the siren of the school hallways, Becky Fraker, calls out to the boys.
They are initially so frightened that she’s addressing them they accidentally dump their entire lunch trays in the garbage. But it is George who recovers his wits and chutzpah quickest. As the other boys nervously sit across the table from Becky and her blonde compatriot Tiffany, young George hones in on Becky’s friend, intoning happily…
to which she replies cryptically…
Third wheel Clark notes aptly…
“She called you Roger!”
Undeterred, George declares…
And proceeds to tell Tiffany a story about ‘Jimmy Rogers’ who has inexplicably managed to get a pencil stuck up his nose.
Elementary student George had a lot to teach me about handling adversity with aplomb. Sometimes things are just going to go very poorly. But maybe if you just keep acting like you’re really happy to be there and you keep your shtick going somehow you’re going to confuse people into making it OK.
#1 – Correct Spelling Is Way Over-Rated
On Henry’s first day in the big leagues, Manager Sal Martinela approaches Chet Steadman with a request that he mentor young Henry and teach him the art of pitching. Chet reminds his skipper that the team employs a pitching coach. It is at this point that the camera pans to Dale Brickma, pitching coach, who intones these words to the youthful hurler…
“Now the key to pitching Henry, is the three R’s….
Like everything else emanating from the mouth of Dale Brickma, the statement doesn’t make any sense with common spelling practices taken into account. And yet, take a moment and soak it in. It actually makes all the sense in the world doesn’t it.
If we could merely grasp all the wisdom in this one statement, at one time, we could probably rule the world. Depth my friends. Depth.
- Departing nugget… here’s Henry, post baseball career, in the Middle Ages with the girl from Titanic & James Bond… the world is a very small place…
- Departing nugget 2… Barry Bonds definitely did steroids. Here’s an image of his person from his cameo in Rookie of the Year when Henry strikes him out. Note the discernible lack of the additional 50 to 60 million pounds of muscle he added in time for his historical home run surge later in his career…