The Sonia Show

Writer. Podcaster. Beer drinker. Old movie watcher. Mother. Goober.

‘The Natural’ is not the best baseball movie ever


Yeah, so, I’ve been forcing myself to relax on my maternity leave.

I know this makes me sound like an asshole, but it’s surprisingly difficult to just relax. I’m always thinking, “Well, I should be doing the dishes,” or “There’s those boxes I should break down and take to the recycling bin.”

I’ve been letting myself take on little things, and then I reward myself with a movie. Yesterday, I watched “Hanna” (Really good! Worth checking out.) and the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” which has convinced me that all the milk I’ve been drinking since getting knocked up is going to give me cancer … again.

Today, I watched “The Natural.” I love baseball movies, but strangely, I have never seen the movie that some people say is one of the best baseball movies ever made. I don’t agree with that statement. I did enjoy it, but there were some things that I found distracting or just plain didn’t understand.

I’m going to assume that I don’t need to say “spoiler alert” for a movie that came out in 1984. And, I’m going to assume that most of you have probably seen it.

First of all, Robert Redford was 47 when he filmed this movie, so he’s a little hard to accept as a 19-year-old aspiring ball player at the beginning of the movie. He’s also hard to accept as a 35-year-old ball player later in the movie.

Second, why did Barbara Hershey’s character shoot him? It’s never explained, is it? And, didn’t she shoot him in the shoulder or arm? Why is a doctor pulling a silver bullet out of Redford’s stomach 16 years later? Did the bullet travel from his arm to inside his stomach? Is that even possible?

Third, wouldn’t Robert Duvall’s character recognize Redford’s character immediately, even though it was 16 years after they met? I mean, Redford struck out the ball player that Duvall was claiming to be the best player in the game, and then Redford’s character was shot the next day. Seems to me that Duvall would remember something like that.

Fourth,  does Redford really not know that Glenn Close’s son is his son? Come on!

And finally, a character dies in the movie by running for a catch and crashing through a wall in the outfield. Really?

It’s a perfectly fine movie, but I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best baseball movies ever. I would pick “Bull Durham,” which I think of multiple times during every baseball game I watch. I think a sentimental case could be made for “Field of Dreams.” Hell, I liked the original “Bad News Bears” more than “The Natural.”

What about you guys? Did you like “The Natural?” Do you have other baseball movie favorites?


Author: The Sonia Show

I'm a writer/podcaster/mother/goober in San Francisco who likes to drink beer, shop, laugh and make other people laugh, watch old movies, feed my unhealthy obsession with pop culture, kick breast cancer's ass, go on adventures with my mighty, mighty good man David and my awesome autistic son, Calvin, wear orange and root for the San Francisco Giants, participate in general jackass-ery, talk about TV, eavesdrop on strangers' conversations, make nerdy “Star Wars” and “Simpsons” references, and post personal things about myself on the web for all to read, which makes me some sort of literary exhibitionist.

8 thoughts on “‘The Natural’ is not the best baseball movie ever

  1. I loved “The Natural” because it’s a beautifully shot movie. I have some issues with it, but I still enjoy it. However, my favorite baseball movie is “Bull Durham.” I’m also in love with “Bad News Bears” and “Field of Dreams.” But “The Natural” is in my top three baseball movies.

    • Can you answer any of those questions? I’m seriously confused.

      • If I remember the book correctly, it explains the shooting. The woman who shot him did it because she was hunting down all “the best” athletes and Hobbs a) beat the Whammer (who was her target) and b) he said that he was going to be the best. I’m pretty sure she shot him in the belly.
        In the movie he never went home after the shooting. So when he runs into Iris and she has a kid, well…. I don’t think she told him how old her son was, so it’s plausible that he wouldn’t assume the kid was his.
        I think the book (and the movie?) says that Bump broke his neck when he went through the fence.
        Re: Duvall not recognizing him 16 years later. Maybe Max Mercey was a dumb ass. 😉 But then again, Hobbs dropped out of sight and didn’t show back up for over a decade. A lot can happen in 16 years.

    • It’s five years later and I’m with ya there, Dawn. Gorgeous cinematography. And of course, it’s easy to see that Hobbs/Redford is shot in the stomach by Barbara Hershey (whose “motive” is clearly explained in the previous scene on the train, when the stupid sports writer is reading about the killer who has been shooting great sports stars around the country. She sees Hobbs “beat” the Whammer, and Hobbs becomes her next target. Pretty clear stuff. The Natural is definitely top three, but not as good as the book upon which it was based. I suggest anyone who loves Bull Durham (as I do) to also check out Long Gone, which is my all-time favorite. A funny, well-acted movie about the low minor leagues based on a wonderfully-written book filled with raw authenticity and heart. My two cents.

  2. Such a death never happened to an outfielder but it is plausible. Earl Combs nearly died from crashing into a wall in 1934. According to Wikipedia, the infallible source of all knowledge:

    “Combs crashed into the outfield wall as he chased a fly ball. He suffered a fractured skull, a broken shoulder and damaged his knee. He was reportedly near death for several days and remained in the hospital for more than two months.”

    Ironically, Robert Redford has been near death since 1934.

  3. LOVE Bull Durham, and Field of Dreams too. It’s weird– I don’t even like baseball that much, but somehow baseball movies are great.

  4. malamud’s book is much better. the ending is completely different.

    speaking of baseball movies, i had the privilege of being rather disappointed last weekend by “eight men out”, another good book with a poor film adaptation, despite its cast of dozens.

  5. Good Job Dawn i think you did a grand job shutting shutting down the negativity

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