3 May 2009 | compujohn
Personal memories of this movie
When I was 10 years old, the same age in real life as Bryan Russell(Hutch), my father took my brother and I on a field trip. We lived in Miami and we headed north on a sunny morning. Dad did not tell us where we were going. We ended up at a baseball stadium. When we walked in and got to where we could see the field, there on the pitcher's mound stood 3 men in baseball uniforms. Immediately I recognized the one portly figure from episodes of 'I Love Lucy', none other than Fred Mertz. That is William Frawley, and he is standing with two younger men. I then realize the other men are Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris! As I look around the field I see people milling about. I see big lights and reflectors, movie cameras, and other movie making equipment. My dad brought us to watch a movie being made. That was the most incredible feeling ever! We sit in the stands, about 2 rows up from the bottom. The stands were not crowded at all, maybe a hundred people or so. I watched in pure amazement, even though there was not a lot of action going on. For anyone who has visited a movie set, you know there are hours of setting up and tedium, followed by a few moments of action and filming.
Before the day was over, the director called out to all of the kids in the park. He needed our help in this next scene. Would we all gather over at the spot in the bleachers just above the dugout? My brother and I took off like a flash! There were probably about 25-30 kids total that convened at that spot. Wow! What were we going to be doing? The director started talking and we all were giving him our full attention. He said that for this shot, Mickey and Roger would come out of the dugout and all of us were to start shouting "Mickey, Roger, Mickey, Roger" - trying to get their attention. Well, next thing I heard was "Action!" and out come Mickey and Roger just a dugout width away. We all started into a shouting chorus of "Mickey, Roger, Mickey, Roger". It was music to my young ears. Sure enough, our heroes heard us and turned our way. They waved and smiled for what felt like an eternity. I then heard a voice yell "Cut!". Wow! We are all actors, or extras, or whatever. We may be in a movie! I am sure my feet were not touching the ground as we walked out to the car, headed back home late that afternoon.
As a child, I never got to see that movie. Never saw it advertised or listed. In those days, of course, we didn't have the internet or the other entertainment resources.
Fast forward 43 years. I am an adult, 2 children of my own. I am thinking about this movie, as I often have over the years. So I decide to try to find some information about it online. Much to my surprise, I find a source for a VHS copy, so I order and purchase it. When the movie arrived, as I opened that package, I swear I could visualize my Keds sneakers and ratty jeans on me. I had just traveled back in time. With a whole lot of anticipation and joy, I sat there and watched this movie with my own children. I had told them the full story. And now, they were going to actually see a poignant memory of their father's past.
As it turned out, my brother and I were not in the movie. The scene with the hollering kids behind the dugout was there, for a brief moment. But we were just outside of the final shot. Just one kid too far away. Oh well, who cares? The bottom line and the moral of the story? Yes, this movie was innocent, naive, simple and pure. Like what I seem to remember most of my childhood. And, I was able to share that innocence in a tangible way with my children. That...makes me feel safe, at home.