Reel Baseball

Essays and Interviews on the National Pastime, Hollywood and American Culture


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About the Book

Not only are movies and baseball two of America’s favorite pastimes, they are integral parts of our culture. Small wonder that the two frequently merge in Hollywood’s use of baseball themes, jargon, and icons. This work on baseball in the movies is organized into four sections examining different aspects of the cultural intersection between film and baseball. In the first three sections—“Baseball in Baseball Films,” “Babe Ruth and the Silver Screen,” and “Baseball in Non-Baseball Films”—essays by scholars in various disciplines cover such topics as symbols, the role of family, baseball as a facilitator of violence, and the American mythos. The fourth section consists of interviews with directors (such as Ron Shelton and Penny Marshall), actors (Kevin Costner, James Belushi), and baseball personnel (broadcaster Vin Scully, coach Rod Dedeaux) who have worked in baseball films. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here.

About the Author(s)

Stephen C. Wood is chair of the communication studies department at the University of Rhode Island.
J. David Pincus has held positions in the communications and business departments at California State University, Fullerton, the University of Southern California, and the University of Arkansas. He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Bibliographic Details

Editors Stephen C. Wood and J. David Pincus
Forewords by Alvin L. Hall ; and Dale Petroskey
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 326
Bibliographic Info: 64 photos, notes, index
Copyright Date: 2003
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1389-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii
Forewords     3
Preface      7

PART 1     16
1. The American Mythos in Film: The Natural     20
2. Returning to the America That Was Meant to Be: The Cinematic Re-Emergence of Baseball’s Vision of Community     35
3. W.P. Kinsella’s Baseball Fiction: Field of Dreams and the New Mythopoeism of Baseball     52
4. Baseball Mystery, Cinema Magic     63
5. Designated Heroes: Cinematic Reflections of Baseball’s Cultural Ideology      75
6. The Myth and Rebirth of Shoeless Joe Jackson in Eight Men Out and Field of Dreams     88

PART 2     102
7. From Christ-Like Folk Hero to Bumbling Bacchus: Filmic Images of Babe Ruth    107
8. Persistence of Vision: A Study of Babe Ruth in Headin’ Home     120
9. Babe Ruth and the Feature Film: The Muddling of the Myth     134

PART 3     146
10. Baseball in Non-Baseball Films: From Family to Mirth     155
11. Baseball in Non-Baseball Films: From Culture to the Ephemeral     172
12. The Family of Baseball: Perceptions of the American Family in Baseball Films    191
13. The Baseball Moment in American Film     208
14. Meet John Doe, Frank Capra, and Baseball: The Celebration and Dark Side of the American Dream     222

PART 4     240
15. The Directors and Producers: Interviews with Phil Alden Robinson, Ron Shelton, Penny Marshall and Arthur Friedman     242
16. The Actors and Critics: Interviews with Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, James Belushi, Robert Osborne and Jeffrey Lyons     258
17. Behind the Scenes: Interviews with Vin Scully, Lynn Novick, Brent Shyer, and Rod Dedeaux     276

Conclusion     292
About the Contributors      303
Index      307

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “accessible essays…invites the attention of the fan of both movies and baseball…recommended”—Choice
  • “spectacular study…a sweeping baseball filmography…recommend[ed]”—Against the Grain
  • “[readers] can spend many happy hours with [this book]”—Burlington County Times
  • “a real treat”—True Review
  • “carefully researched”—University of Arkansas Research Frontiers
  • “an arresting work…academic yet accessible essays and interviews…inspects the cultural meshing of film and baseball in a thoughtfully provocative manner…a read as satisfying as a run-scoring double laced into the gap”—Arkansas Democrat Gazette
  • “the volume fills a long-overdue gap in critical discourse”—Reconstruction
  • “a fascinating collection…highly recommend”—The Providence Journal