19 October 2012 | MartinHafer
The first half of this film is reasonably true--the second differs greatly from reality.
When film began, Grover Cleveland Alexander was a teenager--while Ronald Reagan was almost 40! singing?! This is a biopic about the career of one of the greatest pitchers in major league history, Grover Cleveland Alexander. If you look at the man's statistics, they are staggeringly impressive. Because of this and Alexander's later medical issues, it's not at all surprising they made this film. What is rather surprising, however, is that they chose Ronald Reagan to play the man. When the film began, he was supposed to be a very young man--while Reagan was nearly 40! He did fine in the role, however.
The first half of the film sticks reasonably close to the facts. If anything, it underplayed the greatness of the man (such as not even mentioning his three consecutive 30 win seasons and winning the triple-crown three times). However, around the middle of the film, the story gets hokey--and deviates very far from the truth. While Alexander did have problems with epilepsy and alcohol following his stint in WWI, the film made it look like his life and career fell apart. It also shows him being out of major league ball for some time until he cleaned himself up--but this just isn't true. He never had a losing season and still had excellent statistics until his final season in ball (when he was 43)--and the lengthy downward spiral in the film just never happened. With a career record of 373 and 208, he clearly was no bum! Overall, "The Winning Team" is a highly enjoyable and highly inaccurate and sensationalized film. While I do recommend it (it's well made and interesting), it seems sad that a great man's life was so distorted just to see a few extra tickets. But, that was pretty common for Hollywood during this era.