Monday, October 12, 2020

“Rookie of the Year”: See a Rare, Excellent, 1955 TV Episode with a Twist, Directed by John Ford, with a Script by W.R. Burnett and Frank S. Nugent, Starring John Wayne and Featuring Other Members of the John Ford Stock Company

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

The short-lived series (1955-1956) was called Screen Directors Playhouse, and it presented top directors (Frank Borzage, Leo McCarey, William Dieterle, et al.) filming short stories.

In this story, “Buck” Garrison/Larry Goodhue (Ward Bond) was clearly based on Shoeless Joe Jackson of the Chicago White Sox, one of the greatest ballplayers of all time, who had a .356 lifetime batting average, third to Ty Cobb (.366) and Rogers Hornsby (.359).

The White Sox were heavily favored to win the Series against the Cincinnati Reds, but all of the White Sox’ stars took bribes from gambler Arnold Rothstein to take a dive in the 1919 World Series, in what became known as the “Black Sox Scandal.” All of the stars were then banned for life from baseball, and when the Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1936, exclusion from the Hall was included, I guess you said say, “grandfathered” under the ban. (There is some ambiguity here, seeing as Jackson long ago got some Hall of Fame votes.)

In the present, while watching the Yankees play in the first game of the World Series, sportswriter Mike Cronin (Wayne) sees a rookie call-up for the Yankees who looks like the reincarnation of an infamous old great who was banned from baseball for throwing the World Series named Buck Garrison (Ward Bond), only the kid is named Lyn Goodhue. The kid walks like Buck, and even has a signature move he does with his bat, after every at-bat, of flipping the bat upside down and throwing it down, so the knob hits home plate.

By God, he’s got to be Buck Garrison’s son!

Cronin visits the boy’s home town, and earns people’s trust—the local newspaper editor and the girl next door (Vera Miles), who’s madly in love with the kid, but neither knows of any baseball background in the family.

What a scoop!, Cronin thinks to himself.

I figure the reason for this whole production was for “the Coach,” “Duke,” and the gang to give a boost to Wayne’s young son, Patrick, who played Buck Garrison’s son, Lyn Goodhue.

The story was partially inspired by Billy Wilder’s 1951 masterpiece (which, unfortunately, did tepid business) Ace in the Hole, aka The Big Circus, in which Kirk Douglas plays a brilliant, ruthless reporter who has landed on hard times, working for an obscure newspaper in a mining town.

When there’s a disaster in the local mine, the reporter goes in and earns the trust of the trapped miner, and exploits him for all he’s worth as his meal ticket, as he contacts wire services and big newspapers for a national exclusive and the big bucks.

The reason the Kopyright Kops haven’t yet gotten wise to this posting, is because the title is mostly in Spanish, and it was part of a Spanish-language TV show, where the hosts introduce it. To see our story, start at 2:35.


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