Monday, August 31, 2020

Movie Post: Big Leaguer

 It's been over four months since my last post.  I find it hard to pay much attention to baseball cards these days, but have a number of posts I've been planning to write over these past months.  I woke up a bit early this morning and thought I might finally get one post out.

One morning in quarantine (months ago now) I remembered a movie I once saw, years ago now, on one of the cable channels, American Movie Classics or Turner Classic Movies.  It was about spring training in Florida, and featured the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.  The main thing I remembered is that the Giants let go a pitching prospect but weren't sure if it was the right thing to do, then he showed up against them in a spring training game against the Dodgers.  I thought it was probably from the 50s, and a little searching of baseball movies from the 50s turned up the title: Big Leaguer, starring Edward G. Robinson.

1940 Play Ball Hans Lobert.
1940 Play Ball Hans Lobert card back.

 The movie isn't a true story, but Robinson plays a real guy, Hans Lobert.  In the movie Lobert's playing days are over and he runs the Giants' spring camp in Florida.  Spring camp then, at least in the movie, isn't like it is today. According to the movie it was like an open tryout -- young guys from all over could come stay at camp and show the Giants what they have, hoping for a minor league contract.  And Lobert ran the camp, hoping to find a star so the Giants would keep him on running the camp.

I bought this 1940 Play Ball card of Lobert.  I bought another card related to the movie too, but can't show it because COMC says that my shipment won't arrive until October.  That's an Edward G. Robinson card.  I don't usually go for non-sports stuff these days (although I do have a bunch of mid-90s Marvel and DC superhero cards).  But I thought these would make a nice pair together, Lobert and the guy who played him in the movies.  The Robinson that I bought is a 1939 Milky Way Famous Film Stars card.  It's always nice to have another food-issued card, I think, and nice to add a card from the 30s.  Come to think of it, the Robinson might now be my oldest card!  I don't think I have any others from the 30s, and I don't think I have anything older.  I'll post it when I get it, but like I said, COMC said the shipment I requested in July will come in October.

It's just occurred to me, as I write this post, that there's another card from the movie that I should have bought, so I just ordered it right now.  That's a card of Carl Hubbell.  I guess they wanted to add some baseball star power to the film, so they had Hubbell appear to watch the game at the end between the Giants kids from camp and the Dodgers' minor-leaguers.  So I just ordered a 1940 Play Ball of Hubbell from eBay to go with this one.

Overall I would say that the plot of the movie isn't that strong, but it's interesting to see even a fictional window on the past of baseball.  The movie has a shot of the Polo Grounds.  I've said many times before I have a certain fascination with the bygone stadiums, and of that moment in time before baseball moved west.  If you haven't seen the movie, it's a quick, easy watch; I think I bought it on iTunes for a few bucks.  

I might say a few words about Lobert, since he's the card I'm using to represent the movie.  As a personal plus, he was born in Wilmington, Delaware, like me, and according to Wikipedia, he was an alum of Carnegie Mellon University, like me (it wouldn't have been called Carnegie Mellon back then, but still).  He was an infielder with the Pirates, Cubs, Reds, Phillies, and Giants between 1903 and 1917, and briefly managed the Phillies a couple of times.  He continued to work in baseball for many years.

This is my second of the 1940 Play Ball series, after the Jimmie Foxx card I got myself for Christmas a couple of years ago.  I have another 1940 Play Ball that I just got that will be the subject of another post.
1940 Play Ball Jimmie Foxx.

I'll end the post here, I suppose. I hope you're all doing well.