Cover image for Reel baseball : essays and interviews on the national pastime, Hollywood, and American culture
Reel baseball : essays and interviews on the national pastime, Hollywood, and American culture
Wood, Stephen C., 1947-
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2003]

Physical Description:
xiii, 312 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.9.B28 R44 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Not only are movies and baseball two of America's favorite pastimes, they are integral parts of our culture. Small wonder that the two frequently merge in Hollywood's use of baseball themes, jargon, and icons. This work on baseball in the movies is organized into four sections examining different aspects of the cultural intersection between film and baseball. In the first three sections--"Baseball in Baseball Films," "Babe Ruth and the Silver Screen," and "Baseball in Non-Baseball Films"--essays by scholars in various disciplines cover such topics as symbols, the role of family, baseball as a facilitator of violence, and the American mythos. The fourth section consists of interviews with directors (such as Ron Shelton and Penny Marshall), actors (Kevin Costner, James Belushi), and baseball personnel (broadcaster Vin Scully, coach Rod Dedeaux) who have worked in baseball films. Instructors considering this book for use in a course may request an examination copy here .

Author Notes

Stephen C. Wood is chair of the communication studies department at the University of Rhode Island. J. David Pincus has held positions in the communications and business departments at California State University, Fullerton, the University of Southern California, and the University of Arkansas. He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Imagine an army of writer-professors for whom baseball is an Olympian sort of game that defines an American ethos as no other culture trait can. Here, these writers have their chance, and they do not muff it. The contributors--all professors of history, literature, or "communication"--have written accessible essays that are strikingly free of academic jargon. True, they write of an "American mythos" and the "baseball moment in American film," but in a way that invites the attention of the fan of both movies and baseball. The writers are particularly good in treating fantasy films rooted in a bygone pre-urban past--e.g., Field of Dreams and The Natural. Curiously, the rare opportunities to examine baseball as it relates to US racial arrangements are allowed to pass: The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (1976), which consciously set out to create a mythically scaled tale of the old Negro Leagues, appears only in passing, as does The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), which starred the actual Jackie as himself. This study does have one flaw that is indigenous to recent movie historiography: the tendency to read social meanings into movies without ascertaining whether audiences of the past shared similar opinions. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Large academic and public film and sports collections. T. Cripps emeritus, Morgan State University

Table of Contents

Dale PetroskeyAlvin L. HallStephen C. Wood and J. David Pincus and J. Nicholas DeBonisRobert Rudd and Marshall G. MostThomas L. AltherrGeorge GrellaMarshall G. Most and Robert RuddKurt BillmeyerFrank ArdolinoPatrick TrimbleRichard C. CrepeauStephen C. Wood and J. David Pincus and George Mastroianni and J. Nicholas DeBonisStephen C. Wood and J. David Pincus and George Mastroianni and J. Nicholas DeBonisWilliam SimonsGeorge GrellaRon BrileyStephen C. Wood and J. David PincusStephen C. Wood and J. David PincusStephen C. Wood and J. David PincusStephen C. Wood and J. David Pincus
Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Forewordp. 1
Forewordp. 3
Prefacep. 7
Reel 1 Baseball in Baseball Films
Introduction to Reel 1p. 16
1. The American Mythos in Film: The Naturalp. 20
2. Returning to the America That Was Meant to Be: The Cinematic Re-Emergence of Baseball's Vision of Communityp. 35
3. W.P. Kinsella's Baseball Fiction: Field of Dreams and the New Mythopoeism of Baseballp. 52
4. Baseball Mystery, Cinema Magicp. 63
5. Designated Heroes: Cinematic Reflections of Baseball's Cultural Ideologyp. 75
6. The Myth and Rebirth of Shoeless Joe Jackson in Eight Men Out and Field of Dreamsp. 88
Reel 2 Babe Ruth and the Silver Screen
Introduction to Reel 2p. 102
7. From Christ-Like Folk Hero to Bumbling Bacchus: Filmic Images of Babe Ruth, 1920-1992p. 107
8. Persistence of Vision: A Study of Babe Ruth in Headin' Homep. 120
9. Babe Ruth and the Feature Film: The Muddling of the Mythp. 134
Reel 3 Baseball in Non-Baseball Films
Introduction to Reel 3p. 146
10. Baseball in Non-Baseball Films: From Family to Mirthp. 155
11. Baseball in Non-Baseball Films: From Culture to the Ephemeralp. 172
12. The Family of Baseball: Perceptions of the American Family in Baseball Filmsp. 191
13. The Baseball Moment in American Filmp. 208
14. Meet John Doe, Frank Capra, and Baseball: The Celebration and Dark Side of the American Dreamp. 222
Reel 4 The Last Inning
Introduction to Reel 4p. 240
15. The Directors and Producers: Interviews with Phil Alden Robinson, Ron Shelton, Penny Marshall and Arthur Friedmanp. 242
16. The Actors and Critics: Interviews with Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, James Belushi, Robert Osborne and Jeffrey Lyonsp. 258
17. Behind the Scenes: Interviews with Vin Scully, Lynn Novick, Brent Shyer, and Rod Dedeauxp. 276
Post-Game Analysis: Reflections on Baseball, Film and American Culturep. 292
About the Contributorsp. 303
Indexp. 307