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  • This is how you take a sappy "tv movie of the week" story and make it truly heartbreaking, touching, and funny. Totally unorthodox and extremely well-made true story about John Baker the runner/little girls' track coach who is dying of cancer but refuses to let the pain beat him down until the very end. Why the underrated Bottoms got no award for this outstanding performance is beyond me. I was exhausted just watching him. The kids are great. No sentiment here, man. If a tv movie about a disease can be hip, this is the one.
  • roylatham18 November 2006
    I had the honor/privilege of knowing Stephanie Keel from 6th grade until we graduated. Her story, along with the story of Coach Baker are truly inspiring. These type of true-life stories are an inspiration for everyone. It shows us that courage, commitment and determination can supercede any challenges that we face as a common person. It is rare that we find people with this type of determination who are willing to stand up and fight for their beliefs. I recommend that everyone see this movie as it is a true inspiration. I would also like to add that Albuquerque is an incredibly beautiful city and I am happy that I was afforded the opportunity to grow up there. If you haven't had the opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it.

    PS. Stephanie, if you ever happen to read this, it would be great to hear from you again. Thanks for the inspiration.
  • mmelindam-114 June 2007
    I first saw this movie when it was on television. Later, it was out on VHS and I bought the original book which I remember having to special order for Vortman's Bookstore in Denton, TX.

    I fell in love with Timothy Bottoms and the John Baker story the first time I saw the movie. During a visit to Albuquerque back in 1992 I made it a point to stop by John Baker Elementary. I took a small pebble from the ground which I still have. It was a heartbreaking yet inspiring story and I thank the previous poster for their insight. John Baker should not be forgotten. I'm hoping this one is out on DVD, but I'm not going to get my hopes up...Melinda
  • This is a heart-breaker for sure! It has special meaning for me since I ran against the Duke City Dashers in my teenage years many moons ago! It's all about real life and how one person can certainly make a huge difference. Of course, the movie doesn't contain all the extravagance of today's movies, it was made in the 1970's!! If you can actually slow the movie at 1000 speed, you can see me in one of the scenes. Yeah for my .0015 seconds of stardom! I truly love this movie and do wish it was out on DVD. It's a very old movie, but John Baker made quite an impact on many young girls lives who are now all grown women and truly have a soft spot for his incredible spirit! For myself, I will treasure this one for sure!
  • It is Tim Bottoms all the way, from over-active athletics to fear-numbed sickness. Director Margolin gave his young star a clear open go, and he certainly went places. The other roles are mainly TV-actor style. Ellen Geer gives expert body language as the Principal. I'd have liked to see more of the young girl-friend, who does have winsome charm, yet pops out of the story for a long time without enough explanation. May this originally have been written as a miniseries? The Albuquerque backdrops and clean air give a shining character to the look of the film: finally I figured why the team are the "Dukes". Full marks to the writers for relying on plain humanity and avoiding hokum.
  • Wow. The last and only time I've seen this movie was when it came out in 1979. That year I was 6 years old and in the first grade at John Baker Elementary. I just finished watching this movie on cable just a few hours ago, and boy, did it bring back a lot of pleasant childhood memories.

    I remember the cafeteria and those folding bench-tables and the garage door style door that lead to the kitchen and the old Hispanic lady that used to serve me cafeteria food. I remember the schedule for the different kinds of food served at the cafeteria and the lunch box that my mom would make for me and how she would leave me little notes in them with smiley faces, telling me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me. I also remember getting milk for a quarter, choosing between regular and chocolate.

    I remember playing kickball in front of one of those large baseball fences you can see in the background of the playground. I used to play "Star Wars" with my friends, running around in between the barracks, making shooting sounds from our imaginary blasters. I even drank from the same water fountain they used in one of the scenes.

    The school they portrayed for Ron Bellamy's school was actually Hoover Junior High, which shares the same campus with John Baker Elementary. The home where the Bakers lived in is in the Ridgecrest Neighborhood, which is one of the best neighborhoods in Nob Hill, one of my most favorite places in the world. I have been wanting to buy that house when it comes on the market for so long now. It's right by one of my favorite watering holes that I frequent.

    The school where most of the track shots were filmed at were at the old Albuquerque University on Coors Blvd. on the west side of town. It is now Saint Pius X High School and has been for some time. Ironically, it is less than half a mile from where I currently live. I even attended UNM for a couple of years and my first dorm that I was going to live in is right near Johnson Field, which is also used in the movie.

    Driving up to the top of the Sandia crest is always one of the best experience one can feel. Once you get to the top, the views from there are breathtaking and you feel that much closer to God.

    There are so many things I can write about this movie that it would take a few chapters of bandwidth to do. So, in closing, I will just say this: I love this movie. It has a special place in my heart. Even though I've seen it only twice, it is a very well written and heart felt t.v. movie. It has a lot of charm, character and a great story. The acting is superb and I think Timothy Bottoms is one of the most underrated actors of all time.

    One could easily dismiss this as another cheesy movie of the week, but I don't see it that way. This is a true story of one man and his fight for not only his survival, but for the children, school, city and sport that he loved. He lived his tragically short life with more passion than most people will in two lifetimes. And that is what this true story and indeed life itself is all about.