With the highly anticipated Million Dollar Arm (starring Jon Hamm) hitting theaters May 16, it’s a great time to revisit another heart-warming baseball flick about a pitcher with a million-to-one shot at playing professional baseball: The Rookie.
Disney has excelled at making live-action sports movies based on real-life events, including 1993’s Cool Runnings, which told the story of the Olympic Jamaican bobsled team, 2004’s Miracle about the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey team, the 2000 film Remember the Titans about football coach Herman Boone, and 2006’s Glory Road about the first all-black team in the NCAA.
The Rookie (2002) was Disney’s first baseball movie based on real events. It’s the story of Jim Morris (played by Dennis Quaid), a science teacher in a small Texas town who doubles as the school’s baseball coach. Jim at one time played minor league ball, but multiple injuries forced him to reconsider his MLB career. When practicing with one of the boys on his team, it’s discovered that Jim’s fastball has seemingly returned — to the tune of 98 mph! The team makes Jim a deal they win the district championship (which they have never done) and Jim will try out for the major leagues.
This begins a renewed hope in Jim’s life for a shot at the major leagues, the one dream he never fulfilled. This movie is a story of hope and encouragement, a story of lost dreams and unfulfilled potential. It’s also a story that reminds us how important it is to support your kids and give them the encouragement they need to succeed — one of the subplots of the film is Jim’s hope of making his father proud. His father’s lack of support was something that haunted Jim all of his life. There are times, of course, when our children need to hear the voice of reason to save them from hurt and pain. But too often, parents project their own fears and doubts onto their children’s hopes and dreams. There’s nothing wrong with being supportive of a child’s dream even if it’s a long shot or fraught with difficulty — something all of us parents need to be reminded of from time to time.
Directed by John Lee Hancock who later directed Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, this is a movie that will make you smile, make you cheer, and touch your heart. In addition to Quaid, the cast includes great performances by Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, and Brian Cox.
For more Disney, baseball, and inspiration, check out Million Dollar Arm when it hits theaters May 16.
Do you know someone with a million-dollar pitch? Disney is offering a million dollar prize in a contest of 100 mph pitchers. Read more here!