- Keynote Address to the Twenty-Third Annual NINE Spring Training Conference, March 12, 2016
Here is a true story. In July 2015, Audrey—that's my wife, Audrey Kupferberg—and I arrived home late on a Saturday evening from Cooperstown and Hall of Fame weekend. We live a little over an hour from Cooperstown, so there's no need for us to stay overnight in a hotel. I turned on the TV to check the ball scores and the next day's weather report, but the first images that appeared on my monitor were from Turner Classic Movies. There's Ginger Rogers and Cornel Wilde sharing a back-and-forth conversation in what obviously was a rom.com. Now Ginger Rogers always will grab my attention, so I decided to stick with TCM. The film in question was It Had to Be You, it dates from 1947, and I'd never before seen it.
In the sequence I stumbled upon, a lovesick Ginger is flirting outrageously with a more sedate Cornel Wilde. Apparently, they have an afternoon date. The setting is New York City, and he thinks they'll find themselves at Radio City Music Hall. But Cornel would much rather be at Yankee Stadium. For one thing, he already has a game ticket. So in order to get out of the date, Cornel makes an excuse and tells Ginger that he has a horrible toothache. As he's brushing her off, he accidentally drops the ticket, which she clearly sees before he retrieves it.
Cut to the House That Ruth Built. Cornel arrives at his seat part-way into the game. We see stock footage of #8, Joe DiMaggio, at bat. And who should be sitting right next to him but Ginger, who somehow has managed to secure the seat. Now Cornel, who's a pure blue-collar baseball fan—professionally-speaking, he's a fireman—automatically assumes that Ginger knows nothing about baseball. For after all, aren't women and sports supposed to be like oil and water? At the time, this was the accepted pre-feminist view of women in mainstream America.
So Cornel automatically begins explaining to Ginger some of the basics of the sport. However, as we quickly see, Ginger really knows her baseball, and [End Page 173] she spouts some baseball lingo while cheering as loudly as any fan in her midst. The point here is that, despite her gender, and despite her background—unlike Cornel, she's a product of the upper classes—Ginger and Cornel are meant to be together. How do we know this? Well, they share a love and a knowledge of baseball, that all-American game.
Okay now, let me segue to the present. A couple years ago, I published a piece on the SABR web site in which I surveyed the New York Mets onscreen. But then, also in July 2015, I saw Trainwreck, which was the new Amy Schumer comedy. In the film, her character's father (who is played by Colin Quinn) may as well be the original Mets fan. He surrounds himself with Mets memorabilia. He proudly pronounces that he's a "supporter of the New York Metropolitans." He eventually passes away, and the largest wreath at his funeral has the Mets logo on it.
My point here is that a piece on Mets in the movies—or for that matter any piece that attempts to, and you'll pardon my expression here, touch all the bases of a subject—never will be definitive. It never will be all-inclusive. That's because there always are older films that can be discovered, and there always are new films that will touch on the subject at hand.
Then in August, a month after Trainwreck, I was flying home from London and came upon a film, titled The Age of Adaline, which was released theatrically earlier in 2015 and was playing as an in-flight movie. I decided to take a look and, at one point in the story, a man is attempting to charm a woman. He asks her if she likes baseball. "Yeah, I love it," she responds. He then tells her...