Film Series Intro: Hollywood Homers

All Library locations will be closed on Sunday, April 20, in observance of the Easter holiday.

Baseball.

Movies.

Two fundamentally American obsessions.

Small wonder they often come together.

Baseball is a lot on the minds of Kansas Citians this summer. The Royals are playing, of course, but even more momentous is the 2012 All Star Game to be held at Kauffman Stadium on July 10.

With that in mind, the Library is pleased to warm up the bullpen with an entire lineup of baseball movies.

In June nine Big League features about the “national pastime” will be screened as part of the Hollywood Homers film series. They show on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. in the Durwood Film Vault in the Central Library, 14 W. 10th. They’re free, of course.

Several of the titles might be considered the male equivalent of chick flicks – especially Field of Dreams.

But we also have A League of Their Own, a comedy about the short-lived women’s baseball league, which might qualify as a genuine chick flick.

And what are we to make of the fiercely romantic/sexy Bull Durham, a baseball movie that attracts men and women in equal measure?

Well, that’s the thing about baseball. It’s more than a sport. It’s a metaphor for America, filled with genuine heroes and those who struggle to become heroic.

On one level it’s about rejecting personal greed and materialism to commit to the team. On another level, it’s about fighting to grab your share of the glory – and the cash.

It’s about bawdy locker-room riffing and spiritual uplift.

It’s about the purity of the game and skullduggery on the fringes.

Hollywood Homers covers all the bases.

The batting order:

June 2: Field of Dreams (1989: PG) Iowa farmer Kevin Costner is visited by the ghost of baseball great “Shoeless Joe” Jackson. If you build it, he will come.

June 4: Major League (1989: R) Hoping to move to a better market, the owner of the Cleveland Indians puts together the worst team ever. But these comedic losers (Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, James Gammon) start winning just to spite her.

June 9: Eight Men Out (1988: PG) Indie auteur John Sayles recreates the controversy over the Chicago “Black Sox,” who threw the 1919 World Series. With John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, David Strathairn, and D.B. Sweeney.

June 11: Damn Yankees! (1958: NR) An elderly baseball fan sells his soul to the devil; in return he is transformed into a young baseball star who can bring down the hated New York Yankees. This musical features songs like “You Gotta Have Heart” and “Whatever Lola Wants.”

June 16: Bang the Drum Slowly (1973: PG) An ace pitcher (Michael Moriarty) befriends a dying half-wit catcher (Robert DeNiro) in this tear-jerker for guys.

June 18: Bull Durham (1988: R) A three-way affair between a minor-league catcher (Kevin Costner), a promising pitcher (Tim Robbins), and a baseball groupie (Susan Sarandon) generates laughs and romance.

June 23: A League of Their Own (1992: PG) During WWII a burned-out major leaguer (Tom Hanks) manages a professional women’s baseball team. There’s no crying in baseball.

June 25: The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976: PG) During the Depression a team of black baseballers go on the road in a venture that’s part sport, part barnstorming entertainment tour. With Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor.

June 30: The Rookie (2002: PG) Dennis Quaid plays middle-aged Jimmy Morris, a real-life Texas high school baseball coach determined to enter the big leagues as a pitcher.

About the Author

Robert W. Butler is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at butlerscinemascene.com. He joined the Library's Public Affairs team in 2012.

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