The Winning Season

Let's sink our teeth right into this 2004 made for TBS film. The story takes place in 1985, Pittsburgh and is about a young boy named Joe Stoshack (Mark Rendall – Childstar) who is a huge baseball fan. He plays on a team coached by his father and anytime Joe comes up to bat in a pressure situation he chokes. This leads to Joe being teased by his teammates and even his baby sister. Adding to his problems, Joe's family is also suffering from poverty and this creates tension in the household. Joe, while cleaning up the garage of his elderly next door neighbour, Mrs. Young, finds a very rare Honus Wagner baseball card. Joe goes to the local trading card dealer and finds out that the card is worth $400,000. Thinking he has solved his family's financial problems, Joe brings the card home and tells his parents the good news. Joe's parents tell him that he should tell Mrs. Young about the card and let her decide what she wants to do with it. Needless to say, Joe is not very happy with this and runs away with the card. He ends up at the local baseball diamond and ends up falling asleep.

Joe wakes up as a young man (Shawn Hatosy – A Guy Thing and John Q) and realizes that it is the year 1909. He has been transported through time to the World Series opposing the Detroit Tigers and the Pittsburgh Pirates and more importantly opposing Honus Wagner (Matthew Modine – VisionQuest and Married to the Mob) and Ty Cobb (William Lee Scott – The Butterfly Effect and Pearl Harbour). Befriends Honus Wagner and his fiancé Mandy Horton (Kristin Davis – Sex in the City) and then gets Honus to sign his baseball card to make it even more valuable. Joe now has to figure out how to get back home, so that he can use the signed card to help out his family economically. Other storylines include the World Series, Honus and Mandy's romance, and whether Honus will retire after the 1909 season or not.

The film is definitely aimed at the family film category. The direction, camera work and acting are fine; it is just the script that is a little muddle or confusing. What the movie does do well is hint at the complexities that are involved in the life of a professional ballplayer and the rivalry between Honus Wagner and Ty Cobb. It is a good nostalgic look at what baseball and all sports should be about – love of the game and not money.

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