Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Three Movie Characters That Are More Real Than You Think.

With the Oscars being aired last Sunday night, I think it gives me a good opportunity to talk about baseball and the movies.  There is a been a good number of baseball movies over the years and many of them such as Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, The Natural, A League of the Their Own and Major League have been very popular among the audience.
There are three characters in these movies that most movie goers think are totally fictitious. But, in fact, there is more reality to them than you realize.  They are:

Max Patkin - Bull Durham (1988).  Patkin was the rubber faced man who was a sideshow during the games.  Patkin is 100% real.  After failing as a ball player, he found his niche as an entertainer at the ball games,  He performed over 4,000 games for 51 years and was called the Clown Prince of Baseball.
Writer Ron Shelton who played minor league baseball himself casted Patkin in the movie to help authenticate life in the minors.

Archibald "Moonlight" Graham- Field of Dreams (1989).  If you recall from the movie. Graham played in one game and never made a plate appearance for the New York Giants in the early 20th century and later became a doctor in Chisholm, Minnesota.  All of these are facts.
Writer W.P, Kinsella noticed Graham's unusual entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia.  Kinsella did some research on Graham and made him a character in his book "Shoeless Joe" which the movie Field of Dreams was based on.

Roy Hobbs - The Natural (1984).  Hobbs was a star baseball player whose career was interrupted when he was shot by a deranged woman in Chicago.  Yes, there was a former MLB player that this happened to.  His name is Eddie Waitkus.
1952 Topps

Waitkus was a young player for the Chicago Cubs who was called a "natural" player by writers in the late 1940s.  He made two All Star games in 1948 and '49.   A woman(Ruth Ann Steinhagen) became infatuated with Waitkus and met up with him one weekend in Chicago.  She shot him with a .22 caliber rifle in a hotel room.  Waitkus was never the same ball player afterwards when he later played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles.
Author Bernard Malamud used Waitkus's story for his book, The Natural in 1952.  Malamud only used Waitkus as a basis for his book as the rest of the story is quite fictitious.