Rookie of the Year (film)

Rookie of the Year
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Daniel Stern
Produced by Robert Harper
Written by Sam Harper
Starring
Music by Bill Conti
Cinematography Jack N. Green
Edited by
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 9, 1993 (1993-07-09)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $31 million[1]
Box office $56.5 million[2]

Rookie of the Year is a 1993 American sports comedy film starring Thomas Ian Nicholas and Gary Busey as players for the Chicago Cubs baseball team. The cast also includes Albert Hall, Dan Hedaya, Eddie Bracken, Amy Morton, Bruce Altman, John Gegenhuber, Neil Flynn, Daniel Stern (who also directed) and John Candy in an uncredited role.

Plot

Henry Rowengartner, an unskilled Little Leaguer, dreams of playing in the major leagues. Henry breaks his arm catching a fly ball. When the doctor removes his cast, he discovers Henry's tendons have healed "a little too tight", enabling Henry to pitch with incredible force.

At Wrigley Field during a Chicago Cubs game, Henry's friends get a home run ball hit by the visiting team, the Montreal Expos. When they give it to Henry to throw back onto the field, he throws the ball so hard that it reaches home plate on the fly. Looking for a miracle to save the club, which is suffering slumping attendance, general manager Larry Fisher looks to recuit Henry. Manager Sal Martinella visits Henry at home to scout him, bringing a radar gun, and discovers that Henry can pitch at over 100 miles per hour. For the remainder of the season, Henry has to juggle the culture shock of playing in the major leagues alongside one of his heroes, aging pitcher Chet "Rocket" Steadman, and socializing. His mother, Mary, tries to keep him grounded while resisting attempts by Fisher and her boyfriend, Jack, to exploit him.

Henry's first game is a relief appearance against the New York Mets, in which he gives up a home run to the Mets' feared slugger Heddo, an arrogant player. Despite wanting to quit, he shows marked improvement under the tutoring of Steadman, and records a second consecutive save against the San Francisco Giants capped off with his first MLB strikeout. Continuing to impress leading into and during a road game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Henry bats for the first time, and his small stature frustrates the pitcher to the point where he walks on four straight pitches. He subsequently scores a run, followed by an adult player who scores behind him, limited by Henry's speed.

Over the season, relationships become strained, as Henry's friends grow jealous of fame, and Mary breaks up with Jack when he tricks her into signing a contract to join the New York Yankees. Eventually, Henry resolves the conflict with his friends, and when he asks team owner Bob Carson about the contract with the Yankees, Carson explains that he never authorized a deal and wants to retain Henry. Henry tells Carson that he will retire at the end of the season. Carson is initially disappointed but respects Henry's decision. Carson demotes Fisher to Hot Dog Salesman after finding out that Fisher tried to set up the deal.

On the last day of the season, the Cubs face the Mets once again at Wrigley Field, with Steadman starting. Steadman pitches well but injures his arm while tagging a runner out at home. Steadman turns the ball over to Henry. Henry easily strikes out the side in the seventh and eighth innings, but in the top of the ninth, he slips on a baseball and lands on his side, reversing the effects of his first fall and reducing his arm strength to normal.

Henry frustrates the Cubs and their fans by intentionally walking the other team. He brings in the disappointed Cubs players, explaining why he can no longer throw fastballs, and sends them back to their positions with a plan. With their cooperation, Henry sneaks the ball to the first baseman, who tags the runner out. Henry walks the next batter, with whom he trades insults. When the runner dares him to throw the ball high, Henry does so but stops as the runner takes off for second. He is tagged out, setting up a final showdown with Heddo. Henry throws a changeup, which Heddo misses. Heddo's next hit is ruled a foul ball. Henry opens his glove to find not his father's name, but Mary's. In the stands, she signals him to throw a floater. He does so and strikes out a shocked Heddo. The next spring, Henry is playing Little League baseball again with Mary and Steadman as his team's coaches. After catching a home run ball that ensures his team's victory, Henry raises his fist to reveal a Cubs World Series championship ring he is wearing, signifying his role on securing the Cubs' victory in the World Series (despite neither he nor Steadman taking part in).

Cast

Filming locations

Filming took place on location at, among other venues, Wrigley Field (including in between games of a doubleheader between the Cubs and the rival St. Louis Cardinals) and O'Hare Airport. However, the road game against the Dodgers was filmed at Comiskey Park

Reception

The film has received a 39% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 18 critics.[3][4][5][6]

The film was a box office success.[7][8][9]

Following the film's release, Nicholas threw out the first pitch at Cubs games and was invited to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame multiple times during the customary 7th-inning stretch. During the 2015 National League Championship Series where the Cubs faced the Mets as they did in the movie, he attended Game 4 in a Rowengartner #1 jersey similar to what he wore during the film.[10]

Following the Cubs' win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series to win their first championship since 1908, Nicholas, in celebration, tweeted the final shot from the movie of Henry showing his Cubs World Series ring.[11] Furthermore, director Daniel Stern briefly reprised his role of Brickma following the win.

References

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