#Hot Corner

Hot Corner Movie Watch: "Big Leaguer"

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The movie Big Leaguer was on TCM today, and it's worth seeing because, out of the tens of thousands of movies ever made, only a tiny percentage of them have been about baseball and this is one of them. The premise is this: actual big leaguer Hans Lobert (played by Edward G. Robinson, as seen in this lobby card) runs a tryout camp in Melbourne, Florida for the New York Giants. It's for young players (although all of the actors seem to be in the 25-32 range). Players who make the grade at the camp get a minor-league contract for $150 a month; the rest get a bus ticket home. The climax comes in an exhibition game against a similar tryout-camp team sent over by the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Some observations:

  • Hall of Fame screwballer Carl Hubbell, who plays himself, was not a great actor (although playing yourself can be difficult).
  • Vera-Ellen is the romantic interest in the film and you won't believe how skinny she is. It would take five or her to make one Marilyn Monroe. She might be the skinniest woman ever to appear on camera (although Vampira had a smaller waist in Plan Nine from Outer Space). Seriously, Vera-Ellen is so skinny, you'll wonder how she fits her innards inside her.
  • In spite of the Giants and Dodgers being at the forefront of integrating baseball, I didn't spot any African-American ballplayers in the movie. One of the better players, however, was Mexican, played by Lalo Rios.
  • Richard Jaeckel plays a diminutive pitching prospect who gets the boot from Robinson, only to show up later on the Dodgers. Jaeckel's career includes the war-movie pentathlon of Guadalcanal Diary, Sands of Iwo Jima, Battleground, The Dirty Dozen, and The Devil's Brigade.
  • Jeff Richards, who certainly looks like a ballplayer (or at least one as rendered on the cover of a period pulp magazine) has been credited with playing for the Portland Beavers and the Salem Senators. I checked, and I can find no record of him on Baseball-Reference. I also checked the rosters for both of those teams in the postwar era and he doesn't turn up there, either.

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