Baseball is America's Favorite Pastime Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

In his youth, Jimmy had missed becoming a pro pitcher because of a
shoulder injury. Now Jimmy receives a rare second change to perhaps live
his youthful dream after all, in midlife, a time when, realistically
speaking (at least for the vast majority of would-be baseball
professionals) anyone not making it long before this has simply missed his
chance. Jimmy Morris's late-life professional baseball story is true (with
a few Hollywood add-ons); put perhaps more importantly than that, it rings
true - probably within the collective American psyche in particular. After
all, very occasionally in America (and in baseball, two near-synonymous
entities in our culture) unusual exceptions to the rules, or to the long-
held norms and averages of life do occur.
Such special and singular occurrences, moreover, are plausible
entirely plausible to our psyche. We need not suspend disbelief. We need
not disbelieve at all. That is the real emotional power, for Americans, of
a movie like The Rookie. The continuing hold of baseball on our national
imagination is powerfully similar if more diffused. In American popular
culture and by world reputation alike, the United States is still
supposedly the place on earth where something impossibly; uniquely, and
most of all personally special can happen for anyone. Anyone truly trying
long and hard enough and making the right decisions, moves, and sacrifices
along the way can grow up to be great - in sports; in entertainment, in
science or something else. Everyone, as the conventional wisdom goes, is
unique, special, potentially entirely self-actualizing and fulfilled.
This fulfillment of a personal dream can and does happen anytime;
anywhere - at a young age; at an older age, and once in awhile (even in
professional sports) at an age when one is really too old for it to happen
at all as the movie The Rookie well illustrates. That 'possibility of the
impossible' is arguably the American Dream in operation, and an operation
of a most personally and nationally reassuring kind. Therefore the idea of
someone like Jimmy Morris, a pleasant, seemingly mostly average guy living
life responsibly in middle-America, and who was unlucky when a big break
came his way at the wrong time as a younger man, getting a second chance at
the pros, anyway is enormously appealing - not just for diehard wannabees
whom might (still; somehow) love to be Jimmy- but because the whole idea
that it is never too late to actualize one's dream implies hope of other
unexpected new chances for others as well. Therefore, should lightening
somehow strike twice, one could grab that elusive gold ring this time
The Rookie's ultimately upbeat; energizing; inspiring message, and
especially the movie's central point that it is never really too late to
live one's dream, likely means many things to many people - mostly having
nothing to do with baseball. What the movie' does spawn (or perhaps spawn
again), deeply within the American soul is something broader and more
universal, as well as personal for each individual movie-goer (baseball fan
or not): i.e., 'I can still make it; after all, it is not yet too late.'
There lingers the possibility of a long-cherished goal still being reached,
even against steeper odds than before. One's special talents and
uniqueness could still be ferreted out by fate.
But in America one must also be someone worthy of her, or his second
chance, and worthy in the American sense of that word. What that means is
that one must work as hard, or harder after life's cruel disappointments as
one had worked before them. One must be responsible, not self-pitying or
self-indulgent. One must get on with life as it is now and be there for
other people. One must not be obsessed with the past; however much sweeter
it may have felt than does one's disappointingly ordinary life today.
Within The Rookie, then, Jimmy Morris fully deserves his unique second
chance because he does, and is, all of that and more. Jimmy is a good man
who has always deserved that second chance, even if he truly does not hope
for it anymore. That whole idea, though, of special second chances for
special and rare individuals, based on their having lived lives that cause
them to be deserving of it, likely carries a great deal more weight of
truth (and indeed, genuine plausibility) in a place like America than in
most other places.
The Rookie is symbolically the story of a once near professional player
rising against all odds from the still-living ashes of his long-cherished
dream. And - in addition to all of that -Jimmy Morris's story as
conveyed within The Rookie, with some Hollywood twists and tweaks, really
is for the most part true.
The Rookie first hit theaters in 2002 and was tremendously popular
with audiences from the start. Most baseball movies draw good audience
share in America, e.g., Bull Durham; Major League; The Natural; even the
now-decades-old Bad News Bears is still usually already checked out from
the local Blockbuster. The movie A League of their Own (1992), one that
this time features a team of early professional female baseball players
(this is another true baseball story of grit, determination, and
persevering against the odds) and the obstacles and external (and internal)
conflicts they faced and eventually prevailed against, in pursuit of a
shared dream,
Women and professional baseball have not all that often, especially
historically speaking, been seen in combination with one another, either in
movies of in real life (unless the women wives; girlfriends, blood
relatives or fans of male players). However, the inspiring film A League
of their Own (1992, Penny Marshall, Dir.) is based on "true-to-life events,
struggles, and triumphs of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball
League (AAGPBL)" ("A League of their Own"). This popular baseball movie,
starring women this time, in a WWII setting, offers an interesting and
edifying exception to that general tendency of baseball. It is based on
the real-life story of a group of young woman playing professional baseball
when women rarely participated in professional team sports. Like Jimmy
Morris in The Rookie, these are talented players of exceptional fortitude,
who must fight down some personal demons along the way as they play ball,
and help teammates do so as well. Clearly, this is a movie with a
distinctly feminist tone to it, made in 1992 -a time the feminist movement
in America, having been strongest in the 1970's and early 1980's, had been
petering out for awhile.
Woman director Penny Marshall implicitly suggests in various ways
throughout this film (e.g., as each young woman recruited, all around the
country, for candy-making business genius Walter Harvey's all-girl wartime
exhibition baseball team (designed to make money for the war effort)
struggles with deep-seated individual, family, and gender issues,
externally and internally motivated at once, while doing her best to rise
to the occasion(s) of being a baseball professional; a help to the team,
and a person who can learn to like and respect herself and love others as
All of the teammates ("the Peaches") must struggle, together as a
group but more often then that, each on her own, toward athletic
excellence, and mature self-hood, at a time when it is extremely difficult
for women, much less competitive women athletes with good looks besides, to
be taken seriously and treated with respect. that the issue and the
struggles of (at the time this movie is set) mothers and grandmothers of
1992 theater audiences had endured many of the gender struggles (e.g.,
being discounted; underestimated; trivialized, or seen as an object instead
of as a full, equal person)of 1992 that struggle, individually and
together, to defy the odds of success in their sport in order to realize
their dream.
These women are recruited in order to form their own professional
baseball team, a baseball first in America, back at a time when even the
idea of women playing baseball, much less in a real professional league (as
women do without the least pause or difficulty now) was mostly laughed at
and underestimated. Unlike male baseball recruits at their same level,
members of the peaches had to prove their skills and competitiveness again
and again in public. Even then, there were various scenes in which even
their proven abilities were then used against them, as a way of undermining
their already shaky feeling of self worth, anyway. The various team members
of the Peaches were, in real-life and on the playing field; professionally
competitive and often also engaged (or embroiled) in personally very
trying, emotionally upsetting situations, as often vividly of starkly
shown in A League of their Own.
In real life though (and on the field) these World War Ii-era…

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