If you had to list your ten all-time favorite movies, what might they be? The elves of your subconscious are probably already running to the stacks and bringing titles up to the checkout counter of your mind. Given time, you might come up with dozens, but there’s a good chance the first eight or ten were first for a reason. They bump into your story.
One film that jumps out for me is, “The Natural,” a baseball story starring Robert Redford and Glenn Close. Close has one immortal line, addressing Roy in his maternity ward bed (long story). “I believe we have two lives,” she says, “the one we learn from, and the one we live with after that.”
It’s another scene, though, that came to mind today, It’s a dugout scene where Roy (Redford) and Pops (Wilford Brimley) have a life-altering confrontation.
Roy was “The Natural”–a phenomenal young baseball talent destined to be “the best there ever was.” Unfortunately, as is often the case, Roy’s dream got sidetracked by life. He reappears as a late 30-something who still has the swing and the passion, but the clock’s ticking—loudly. The Knights, are a losing major league ball club managed by Pops. To say that he was frustrated with his players is an understatement. But he was further frustrated when one of his scouts sends him a middle-aged rookie—Roy Hobbs. Pops refuses to play Roy or even let him practice. Roy literally and figuratively rolls his eyes as he watches the team lose again and again. Tension between the rookie and the manager finally comes to a head.
“Hobbs,…I’m sending you down—to Triple-A ball,” Pops says. “I set the rules and you haven’t been playing by them.”
“I came here to play ball,” Roy shoots back, “…not to listen to some two-bit carnie (a joke of a sports psychologist). I won’t do it, Pops…. I can’t. It’s taken me too long to get here.” Roy walks away—but Pops follows.
“Hobbs! Come here!… Batting practice…tomorrow… Be there!”
“I have been,” Roy says without a smile, “…every day.”
From then on, it’s a story of Roy knocking the cover off the ball and inspiring a team on to win the pennant.
As a fifty-something who knows he’s never touched his true potential—that unique something I know I coulda/woulda/shoulda done—”The Natural” stirs my hope-er. Maybe it stirs yours too.
Fellow Baby Boomers…now hear this: you aren’t dead and you aren’t done.
“Batting practice… tomorrow…be there.”