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Plays about baseball

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  • Plays about baseball

    I'm looking for plays about baseball. Only two I can find are 'Damn Yankees' and 'Take Me Out'.

  • #2
    You could look up a play called "The First", which made its Broadway debut in 1981 or 1982. it was written by New York film critic Joel Siegel (who died last year), and starred David Alan Grier and Lonette McKee. it's a musical drama depicting Jackie Robinson's life in baseball, from his first years in the Negro leagues, his recruitment by Mr. Rickey, his breaking the color barrier, and the fading days of his career.

    it is not a very good musical but I remember it extremely well as it was the first true Broadway show I ever attended (beatlemania doesn't count).

    Good luck.


    • #3
      "Bleacher Bums" is a great play, but it's about the fans at Wrigley more than the game in front of them. It was first performed in '77 by Chicago's Organic Theater. The original cast included Joe Mantegna (who came up with the idea- the entire cast collaborated on the script) and Dennis Franz.

      Here's a clip from the made-for-Showtime(?) movie. NSFW (a few F-bombs)
      He's guilty of excessive window shopping.


      • #4
        Yanks-3, Detroit-0, Top of the Seventh.

        This was a comedy written by Jonathan Reynolds and first staged in 1975 by the American Place Theater in New York City.

        The original production starred Tony LoBianco (who played a villain in "The French Conncection") as the hapless, struggling Duke Bronkowsky.

        Here is a synopsis:

        Duke is a 36-year old pitcher for the New York Yankees at the end of his career. The play begins at the beginning of the seventh inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers. Up until this point, Duke has pitched a perfect game.

        As he talks to himself on the pitcher’s mound, we learn bits and pieces about Duke’s life. His mistress is waiting in his car, listening in to the game on the radio and protecting his car from vandals. His once beautiful wife has become saggy over the years, and may or may not be sleeping with a swimmer.

        And although Duke once had a promising career, product endorsements, and late show spots, his career is in the toilet. His slider is the only pitch he has left to count on. His fastballs aren’t fast, his curveballs are erratic, and he never learned to throw a screwball.

        His fast food franchise stopped doing well when a McDonalds opened nearby, and his public relations job will be over if he plays badly.


        I saw the premiere of this play and enjoyed it. I'm pleasantly surprised to learn it is still performed around the country and that one production even featured Dennis Haysbert (Pedro Serrano of "Major League").

        Last edited by brooklyndodger14; 05-12-2009, 10:35 PM.


        • #5
          It's not directly about baseball, but Fences by August Wilson is a great drama with baseball themes running through it. The protagonist, Troy Maxson, is a former Negro Leaguer.


          • #6
            A recent (2008) and topical production about baseball and steroids

            This was a play I heard about last fall.



            Off-Broadway Play About Baseball Steroid Scandal
            [November 19th, 2008] by Millard Baker

            Photo credit: Joan Marcus, Playbill

            A new off-broadway play about the Major League Baseball steroid scandal opens at the New York City Center MTC Stage 2 on November 18, 2008. Daniel Aukin directs the Manhattan Theatre Club production of Back Back Back.

            Does greatness always come with a price? Can only someone with nothing to lose tell the whole truth? From the acclaimed writer of last season’s MTC Stage II hit The Four of Us and Bach at Leipzig comes a stirring new drama about America’s favorite pastime. Back Back Back follows the turbulent careers of three very different teammates in baseball’s steroid era whose clubhouse secrets bring them under federal scrutiny.

            Playwright Itamar Moses revisits the steroid scandal with a fictionalized exploration of the relationships between admitted steroid user Jose Canseco and implicated steroid user Mark McGwire juxtaposed against team’s “steroid abstainer” Walt Weiss.

            Once again, Itamar Moses has changed the names to protect the guilty. In the writer’s fun, structurally clever baseball dramedy “Back Back Back,” the offending parties are Raul, Kent and Adam — proxies for admitted steroid promoter Jose Canseco, accused steroid user Mark McGwire and supposed steroid abstainer Walt Weiss, the Oakland Athletics’ three consecutive rookies of the year from 1986-88.

            Critic reviews of the steroid play were mixed.

            Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News was disappointed and felt the play needed a “little juicing of its own.”

            Kent (Jeremy Davidson) is the easygoing natural using unnatural performance-enhancers to maintain his status as a respected star. The Latino Raul (James Martinez) has overcome his underprivileged roots and has the swagger to show for it. Both are using “pregame vitamins” to boost their power by the time Adam (Michael Mosley), a not-so-naive rookie, joins their team. Adam steers clear of steroids and has to determine if he’ll turn narc.

            The men intersect at key points throughout their lives, culminating when Raul (even baseball dummies will get that he’s a stand-in for Jose Canseco) has written a tell-all book (his motives remain murky) that damns Kent (a thinly veiled Mark McGwire). Their meeting, as they wait to testify before a congressional committee, gets superheated and physical. The push-comes-to-shove gives the play a jolt it sorely needs. Though by the time this moment arrived, at the bottom of the ninth, I admit I’d been actually thinking about stealing home.

            Sam Thielman of Variety gave a more positive review although he thought the “pseudo-intellectual” treatment of the subject did not convey much more than “Steroids bad. Baseball noble. Raul douche bag.”

            Granted, the overlap between the theater and sports worlds is not a large one — for example, David Zinn’s set, which is supposed to be a series of weight rooms at multimillion-dollar ballclubs, looks like fifth-period gym. But as soon as Moses outlines his topic, even the dimmest theatergoer will come to the same conclusions: Steroids bad. Baseball noble. Raul douche bag.

            Where “Back Back Back” goes right is in the exploration of the three guys as characters. What kind of person would tempt his friend to sin and then destroy him for succumbing? That’s a more interesting question than the widely debated “What have steroids done to baseball?” That may be good to ask at some point in the future, but for now, Moses should have contented himself with the people and let history sort itself out.

            Steve Kettmann, the ghostwriter for Jose Canseco’s first book, gave the most positive review in spite of his over-familiarity with the source material.

            The notion of an imagined conversation between Canseco and McGwire about why one of them wrote the book that would kill the Hall of Fame chances of the other is, to any real sports fans or to anyone who has grappled with the baseball issues of recent years, deeply fascinating and irresistible. For sheer creative bravado and raw courage, I think we owe young Berkeley, Calif.-born playwright Itamar Moses an extended ovation. And I defy anyone to question the man’s ability to imagine his way to truth that others have missed.
            Last edited by brooklyndodger14; 06-03-2009, 09:13 PM.


            • #7
              Max Gail (Wojo from "Barney Miller&quot as Babe Ruth (1984)

              This was a play that was taped and shown on PBS and on cable in the 80's. The review by the New York Times below was not all that favorable, but I remember liking it for attempting to humanize and bring to life a person only seen in newsreels.



              STAGE: 'THE BABE,' AT PRINCESS
              By MEL GUSSOW
              Published: May 18, 1984

              BABE RUTH was, in Red Smith's phrase, ''the complete ballplayer,'' and probably the most colorful character ever to play our national pastime. A great bear of a hero whose exploits on and off the field were legendary, he would seem to be a monumental subject for a movie or a play. But, except for the 1948 popcorn biography, ''The Babe Ruth Story,'' starring William Bendix, he has managed to elude dramatic interpretation.

              That ''The Babe,'' the one-man play that opened last night at the Princess Theater, is so wide of the mark, is no small feat. Max Gail, the actor who has chosen to make his Broadway debut impersonating Ruth, and Bob and Ann Acosta, the authors of the monodrama, have collaborated in presenting an evening of bush league Babe.

              The play superficially considers the athlete's life, somewhat in the manner of a television documentary. Mr. Gail plays the character at three stages of his career - at his height, on his retirement and at an oldtimers' game in 1948 - looking back to previous years and occasionally stopping for awkward interludes of introspection. The lights dim and the Babe says, ''I'll never forget the kids.''

              Each scene is introduced by stock newsreel footage, overlong and badly projected. We see Ruth in uniform, sometimes in tandem with his Yankee teammate Lou Gehrig, and we also see other famous figures of his time, such as Joe Louis and Hitler (far too much of Hitler). Normally, newsreels might be used to cover scene changes, but there are no scene changes. Mr. Gail simply wanders blandly from bar to ball field to locker room.

              The actor, who plays a policeman on television's ''Barney Miller,' has been physically transformed with the help of makeup designed by Steve Laporte. He does not look like himself, but neither could he pass for Ruth in a look-alike contest, a fact that is underscored by the movies we are shown of the real thing.

              During the film that precedes the final episode, Mr. Gail covers his ruddy complexion with old man makeup. Then he lowers his voice to a croak and reads a sentimental letter from Ruth's boyhood mentor at the St. Mary's Industrial School in Baltimore. In brief moments, the actor also pretends to be Miller Huggins and other characters in Ruth's life, and sulks about not being asked to manage a team.

              As directed by Noam Pitlik, the evening is so intent on being inclusive in a relatively short span of time - about the man, and, on film, about his era - that it succeeds in shortchanging his amazing baseball accomplishments as well as his prodigious personal life. Sports fans will find no new information here, and those who are less knowledgeable may wonder what all the shouting was about. As a dramatic portrait of the Sultan of Swat, ''The Babe'' is as deep as a bunt.

              The Sultan of Swat THE BABE, by Bob and Ann Acosta; directed by Noam Pitlik; scenery designed by Ray Recht; lighting designed by F. Mitchell Dana; costumes designed by Judy Dearing; production stage manager, Doug Laidlaw; makeup designed by Steve Laporte. Presented by Corniche Productions, Ltd. At the Princess Theater, 200 West 48th Street. George Herman Ruth Max Gail


              • #8
                "Bang the Drum Slowly" was produced as a live teleplay back in 1956. I'm sure if you can find the transcript it would still make a great play today.


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