The Natural: My Favorite Aging Athlete Movie (and My Roy Hobbs Glove)

in #sports3 years ago


100% of the rewards from this post will go to fund the Steemit in Nigeria event in Ife, Osun state, which is planned for November. Liquid rewards will be matched with an SBD donation equivalent to the Steem Power earned. You can see the team’s latest update here. Please contact @ehiboss or @destinysaid with any questions. Donations also are welcome at the @leadent360 address.

One More Season in the Sun

Rocky Balboa. Invincible. Bull Durham. The Rookie. For Love of the Game. Tin Cup. Mr. 3000. Major League. Trouble with the Curve. The Color of Money. Resurrecting the Champ. What do these movies have in common? If you said “sports flick”, you’re correct. If you said “Kevin Costner”, you still get a prize, because he must be in half of them. But more specifically, these movies all share the theme of an aging sports hero.

Father Time is undefeated. Past a certain point, athletic ability declines with age. And perhaps that is why older players make good sports heroes. Or maybe it’s because the Kevin Costners, Clint Eastwoods, Dennis Quaids, and Paul Newmans of the world came of age during a time when pure sports like boxing and baseball provided the poetic backdrop for the lessons they learned about life.

If you thought hard about it, you probably could name half a dozen more films that fit a similar pattern. The older player makes a comeback or takes an improbable starring role during a championship run. Expand the criteria to include other unlikely heroes and you’ll end up with a more diverse cast of films, from Million Dollar Baby to Cool Runnings to Remembering the Titans to Bend It Like Beckham. Sports provides the ideal slate for as many game-sized metaphors and self-development lessons as a film director can pack into two hours. And the best of these movies will leave you cheering or crying in the end because most of us can relate to that language known as sports.


Underdogs and unlikely heroes/heroines is a major theme for most sports movies. Collages: From WTOP (above) and (below).

I intentionally left one movie off the list above: The Natural, starring Robert Redford. One could argue about which movie is the best sports flick of all time; I might throw a few others onto that list, such as Hoosiers, Chariots of Fire, and Field of Dreams. But The Natural deserves a place near the top, since it is one of the finest sports movies ever made. In my opinion, it is the best baseball movie of all time.

The Natural by TriStar Pictures.

Let Me Tell You a Story

In the 1980s, there was a young kid growing up in a typical American town. His parents didn’t own a television and when they got one it only had a few channels anyway, so he fell asleep many nights listening to ballgames on the radio. Baseball games. With its long, slow progression and hours of potential dead air between pitches, baseball is made for radio. Some of that boy’s biggest heroes were old-school radio announcers who could fill all those gaps by telling stories of the game. They painted pictures with words that made you feel like you were right there, smelling the cut grass and watching the umpire dust off home plate.

That boy was me. I had dreams of growing up to be a baseball player. But like most kids, the closest I ever came to that was playing in a few youth league games around that time. I was fortunate to play in my town’s little league championship game one year. I got hit in the head by a pitch, walked to first base, and came around to score a go-ahead run.

It looked a lot like this. Photo: Autodo.

After one of those games, my father took me to a movie theater to watch The Natural. I’m not quite sure why it was in the theater, because the movie came out in 1984, and it must have been years after that. Remembering back to that time, the VCR thing was just getting going and most people did not rent videos yet. Neighborhood movie theaters played all kinds of movies back then (even older ones), not just hot new releases. So that may help explain why this movie was in a theater several years after it was released.

And The Game Played On

What’s most striking about The Natural is the utter purity of the game throughout the entire movie. The title refers to the main character, Roy Hobbs, who has rare, natural talent. After he was shot and his promising career as a pitcher was cut short, he made a comeback many years later as a very skilled hitter. But the term “The Natural” says just as much about the role of sports: it’s the only natural thing in the whole movie.

Roy Hobbs takes a bullet, he gets pressured by gamblers (including an employer), and throughout the story, there are people trying to knock him out or manipulate him for their own reasons, whether these are romantic or financial. It’s set against the backdrop of the Great Depression, a time of great suffering and economic misery. Yet amidst all of the human drama, despite being beaten down and having every conceivable obstacle thrown at him, Hobbs risks everything to play again.

The story was fictional, so this wasn't an actual cover, but it's a construction of a 1939 LIFE cover.

In the end, what’s important, and what’s purely natural, is the game of baseball. When people sacrifice everything for it, nothing can stop the game. Some people say that sports is a meaningless diversion from the important matters of daily life. And yet in the middle of life’s madness, sports for a moment rises above it all. It gives people a reason to hope, believe, and come together, connecting with something so pure that it seems real. No movie has ever made that case better than The Natural.

My Roy Hobbs Glove

It was around that time, as a youngster, that I crossed paths with my "Roy Hobbs" mitt (baseball glove). It was at a local secondhand thrift store. Had I not seen the movie, I would not have looked twice at this glove. I would have bought the same fancy new kinds that my friends had. Instead, I convinced my parents to pay $2 or whatever it cost to get me my own Roy Hobbs-style glove. If I couldn’t have the magic bat, I wanted this vintage glove that reminded me of the magic of that movie. Sure, it wasn't the old open-finger model, but it had some history.

The glove used in the movie, and a replica, courtesy of The next few pictures show my glove.



My glove. Not a real Roy Hobbs model or even that close to it, but still an old classic, probably from the 1950s. Author photos.

On several occasions, I’ve tried to research this glove of mine. It's not one of the old open-finger models, but probably was made shortly after that. It was made by the George A. Reach company, which had an office in Philadelphia and a factory in Maryland from the late-1930s to the mid-1950s. Apparently, George A. Reach was the nephew of A.J. Reach, who is credited with having created the sporting goods industry. Separately, there is some suggestion online that George Reach may have invented the cork-cored baseballs that are widely used in baseball today. In any case, it is quite possible that my glove was produced sometime between the year when the movie The Natural was set (1939) and the time that author Bernard Malamud wrote the original story (1952) upon which the 1984 film was based. Most likely, mine was made in the 1950s.

Today, you can buy a replica Roy Hobbs glove on eBay for $250 and there is a brand that uses his name. My $2 mitt has no special claim to fame, and no connection with the movie, but it looks and feels like a classic. As a young man playing baseball with my friends, as an older dude at softball games, and as a father who plays baseball with his own kids, I have used this glove. I have other gloves, but this is my favorite. It’s my Hobs mitt.

Being Thankful and Paying It Forward

I may have grown up without a television and using a baseball glove made decades earlier, but I have enjoyed incredible opportunities and experiences. Today, I am giving thanks for the opportunities I have had on Steemit by again paying forward something I have earned. My last such fundraiser post enabled me to donate enough to help launch the Steemit Accelerator Hub in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which is opening soon to help onboard and train many future Steemians.

100% of the proceeds from this post (SBD liquid rewards + a donation from me, equal to any Steem Power earned) will be donated to support the Steemit in Nigeria event that is being organized by @ehiboss , @destinysaid , and others. Again, I believe this is a vital effort to reach and mentor many more people who can benefit from Steem/it and improve our community.


Nigerians are wonderful people. It’s been a pleasure getting to know some of them and seeing their creative content on Steemit. Like that fictional baseball player who suffered through tremendous adversity and risked everything to play the game he loved, many people in Nigeria live in poverty and deal with adverse conditions in daily life. It is a developing country where there are few opportunities for many of the people to work in good jobs or start businesses of their own.

Steemit offers a ray of hope. Amid the chaos of life, it is an opportunity that is real and natural. And Steemit is only the beginning when you think about the possibilities for Steem; it could become a widely-used currency in much of the developing world. Let’s help our Nigerian friends get 20 million people onto Steemit, eSteem, dTube, Busy, ChainBB, and other Steem-powered sites and apps. It starts now.

All earnings from this post will be donated to @leadent360 for the Steemit in Nigeria event. Please consider making a donation of your own and/or supporting the posts of its chief organizers, including @ehiboss and @destinysaid. And please vote on their fundraiser posts as well. Thank you!

Rocky from MGM. Top thumbnail image, displaying a collection of old baseball gloves, shows the George Reach gloves at


Ok. I have enjoyed all of your posts, but this is my new favorite. And it is not because everytime I say "number 9" in class I end it with "Number nine is Roy Hobbs... welcome to the majors Mr. Hobbs". (Although I honestly do that)

Its also not because you gave a shout out to Hoosiers which may be my favorite sports movie of all time.

It isn't even because the slow smooth melodic delivery and build up reminded me of listening to baseball on my own radio.

It was because of this one line:

"Steemit offers a ray of hope."

Yes. Yes it does.

All of those movies have something in common. In them, the competition is fair.

Steemit has the ability to level the playing field for so many people around the world. It doesn't matter what country you are born in. It doesn't matter what school you went to. It doesn't matter what family situation you were born into. If you are dedicated and creative, you can succeed on Steemit.

this is a mouth dropping, spirit infused and inspiring work sir donkeypong, glad to have met you and interacted with you.

Baseball, bassball gloves, and bats, are somethings one will hardly find here, but still everyone knows about. The influence of American TV here is mindblowing, and while the sport may be non-existent in our biome, many know how wonderful and interesting the sport can be.

This piece encases one of the many things I admire about you, the ability to write a compelling work.

Thanks once again for helping out.

I should be thanking you guys who are working hard to organize this event. You have been willing to put your own earnings into it and sacrifice a lot to make sure it happens. The least I can do is help a little.

Awesome piece, thank you Sir for this undeserved, yet given honor you have bestowed on us, we are totally humbled by it sir and we promise not to disappoint.

Thank you for the work you are doing and being so fully committed to getting this project done.

Being Thankful and Paying It Forward

The Natural made me want to be a baseball player. I saw it when it was released in 1984

That did not work out for me...

Oh and the book is not happy like the movie. I was a very confused middle schooler when I read the book after the movie.

Wow, this is awesome. @donkeypong has an amazing, unimaginable kind heart. I remember chatting him up the first time and ask a very embarrasing question "are you a nigerian",well i asked that because of what he is doing to help nigerians. When he said he was an american, i was amazed by his works. He is someone i bug a lot on steemit chat, yet he responds and advise me as much as he can. Thank you so much @donkeypong. @ehiboss, @destinysaid and every other nigerian appreciates you.
Interesting story you got. I can bet your childhood must have been fun.

Robert Redford is one of my favorite actors, I have heard of this film but did not watch it. Baseball is not that popular in Borneo. My favorite Robert Redford movie was The Sting with Paul Newman. I think you are doing great work and do continue to pay it forward. Cheers.

It is a common story line where a past star rises to the top again and makes a huge play or someone that comes in to save the day for a team and help them unanimously win in the end.

However it is always great to watch movies like this. To feel a sense of motivation and euphoria that despite the many hardships you may face it will never stop you chasing your passions and dreams.

Great to see you are carrying on your work to help fund the steemit event in Nigeria. A richer diverse global community I think is what we all want and thank you for all your work on helping the international community @donkeypong.

Great post and great cause @donkeypong Robert Redford, Raging Bull all those movies even Mr. 3000 they are classic and funny. It sucks the greats are getting old uh? Redford, De Niro, etc
Thanks for sharing.

Awesome article, awesome effort, awesome movie. I love The Natural, even though I never quite got what was going on with the women in that movie. I'm sure there was a deeper message there, guess I'll have to watch it again!

Either the guy in the movie wasn't very good with women or the author of that story just piled the BS on him...the women in the movie certainly were more manipulative than usual.

base ball sport is not popular in Myanmar, but i like the way they strike the ball and fly away until cannot catch. but one of my cousin used to play cricket in Myanmar. i used to buy for him some accessory . BTW, do you still play base ball?

Cricket is similar in some ways. From what I've read, the two games may have had the same ancestor (an old game called rounders). Yes, I still play, but mostly with my kids.

Thank you very much, Nigerians are glad to have you by our side. We will continue to try our possible best to keep the steemit spirit up. Thank you once again sir.

Oh man, baseball is such a great sport. As a kid i used to watch games with my dad and big brother, we spent so much time doing this. Also i´m from Venezuela, baseball is pretty damn great over here. Reading your post made me think of those memories. Thanks for that.

You guys know your baseball down there! The memories last a lifetime.

What a lovely story. It is so great that some things just touches us in ways we will always remember - Good on you for paying it forward. You are a caring soul and a true inspiration for what I would like to do if I am all grown up on Steemit. Thank you for the good read.

Thank you for the kind words. It's time to make sure others get the same opportunity.

Awesome masterpiece. I so much salute your creative acumen. Also, thanks a lot for your acts of kindness to us in the Nigerian Steemit community.
I've Resteemed this for my other "Naija" friends to benefit from this, hope you don't mind?

What a wonderful story and great initiates @donkeypong!!

Amazing piece!

Huge reward for your post here... I stop by to tell you about this "new" hype coin:

The exchange with the biggest volume of EmberCoin at the moment:

Here is the price chart of EmberCoin:

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I also loved that movie based on #Baseball. Loved Robert Redford's portrayal. And I read that he played baseball as a young fella.

Apparently, he liked the #sport a lot -- that's WHY he wanted to do the movie.
As for comparisons, I liked 'Field of Dreams' quite a bit; but I certainly prefer the Roy Hobbs story!

It was so INVOLVING, I felt like I was 'right there'. Such a great character study ♦♦ And I was happy that he ended up with Glenn Close, & not Kim Basinger

Thank u for this #sports-related post

I've never really been a big fan of bassball but this is super interesting.

Awesome, I love your way to make this post. Interested Tom.

First post about sport, cool .. x)

amazing wooooow good post @donkeypong

Wow this is Awesome, plus you just gave me new movies to watch lol. I found this article through @ehiboss and I'm glad, I just followed and upvoted Sir hope to see more good articles.

100% of the rewards from this post will go to fund the Steemit in Nigeria event in Ife.
Applause to you @donkeypong i support your plan 👍👍👍
I RESTEEM THIS POST ,because support to share your plan

Please follow me back 😃 tom
Im make post about design. You can look my blog..

you are a very talented person, you achieve dreams and amazing ideals ,, happy to read your article I like a good post, @donkeypong success always greetings from me in Aceh ,,

I am very interested in your post. And I always wait for him to read. this time you share the history of sports, I keep reading.
greetings from indonesia for you @donkeypong.
Upvote and resteem.

amazing @donkeypong, full information, i like baseball's so amazing post..nice story n full history...thanks for share...

though movies ain't what my time just like my top notch mentor said, "i will prefer to be a king creator of grand contents than a consumer because one leads the other follows slavishly predictably , awesome pose, thanks still

Greeting from Africa ( Morocco ) Great post , we hope more conference in Africa .. thank you so much for promoting this great platform in Africa

Great post! Baseball has never been a mainstream sport in my country but reading this makes me wish it had been

Yes dear, that's a good move

Such generous man! Thank you also sir for supporting steemit community :)

This yet is another amazing piece of writing that clearly describes how most Nigerians persevere. Thank you for always working to make Nigerians find a voice here on Steemit. Your love for developing community is Classic and Priceless.

Your life story is so inspiring. You don't have to regret if you had no Television because it never makes people much better. Nowadays, parents are worrying about the existence of television that makes kids less active and creative.. sports activity can make life much better and healthier. Now, people claim that television is an enemy that makes people addicted and less productive..

Very awesome ...and very very great post.. Have a nice day @donkeypong

A great project, will certainly give the fruits sought by perseverance, the film is incredible, thank you very much for sharing!

i am new in esteem. please come home to stop at my update. Please help me @donkeypong

beautiful photo.

The Natural was such a solid movie. No explosions or spectacles, just damn good writing and acting.

Hoping one day I can do something like this for people. You are truly generous, wonderful human being and a good role model to follow.

That said, In my time, I think the best Baseball Movie is Moneyball. Second is Major League, followed by "If you build it, they will come". Haven't seen The natural so can't say.

I used to play baseball in our little province in Philippines. We used a branch for our bat, a bunch of paper crumpled and stuck together with rubber bands is our ball. Our bases were our thongs, so you can imagine us running in one thong from base to base. We did have a TV but playing with friends were so much more fun.

Thank you for your effort to make this world a better place.

Lovely and excellent story @donkeypong.. baseball is my favourite sport.. I'm very new to your community.. going to be a part of it..😊
So, Followed and upvoted you..👌👍

This was a good one. I am happy that you have sought to assist people who really need it, I hope this is a success.

The best part of the post is the donation part. Hope it helps those in need.

Btw.. I enjoy reading your childhood story too

nice post i follow you

Great post very interesting blog Thank you for sharing

I have some friends in Lagos. Thanks for doing this.

This is so inspiring, well articulated post.

Beautiful gloves are very comfortable to use

Hopefully negria always sucses.

Support them, why not?

Well what else to say my friend...You are just an awesome human being doing so much for the Nigerian community. Your support to all the newcomers in steemit is just great + you are supporting my own project too steemit iron chef, you are simply amazing @donkeypong!
May you always prosper in life.
Thank you!

great post im always support steemit in nigeria @donkeypong big hug for nigeria ^_^

Glad to see y'all do this

Wow lovely
Such a childhood experience
They have there impact in our future life
Just like you supporting Nigeria stach
Thanks alot

I don't think I know any of these movies. But either way, you guys are doing a great job. Kudos to you @donkeypong for recognizing and helping @leadent360 out. You are awesome

The chief supporter of Nigerian Steemians! We are very grateful. Thanks and thanks. May God reward you immensely.


Перчатки новые левые самые классные

extraordinary writing, really appreciate your writing skill. very nice post
upvoted and followed :)
please check my post if possible , thanks :)

Amazing that You are donating the profits generated with this post. ❤ and it was also a very nice and interesting reading

Hi, as a sign of my support for the tag #sports and #football, I vote for you and begin to follow you

I like your post, and I will wait for your next posting

one of the best article i have ever read thanks alot

Can't forget about Tincup

I'm a fan of movies and how they stand out I love the sport @donkeypong, nice post
Upvote and resteem.

what a post :0

I just love basebal if I am the one playing but this movie is a must watch to for me .
Thank you @donkeypong

Very inspirational post and proceeds going to a good cause. Thank you for your generosity.

Excellent post

I like your thinking and happy to contribute:)

very nice

What great list of movies. A Roy Hobbs Baseball glove. Wow that's something my father would appreciate very much. Me I've been traveling for so long I lost touch with American culture and value of collectables like that. I used to be way into the Yankees being from the I don't care, it's kind of sad in way, but when I see it on TV now I see millionaires in Pajamas! lol

On another note. Have you seen "The Wrestler" With an aging Micky Rourke. That is a dramatic movie about how these WWF style wrestlers beat the hell out of their bodies, mismanage their money and have to continue wrestling even when they basically can't. Good movie, way underrated. I think it was Rourkes come back roll after screwing up his life too!

Hope you are well!

-Dan "World Travel Pro!"

You are doing a lot of projects that would have been handicapped if it were to be pursued by the organizer of the event.

Thanks a lot sir

Such a good cause you're supporting!!

a very fun game right

posting and articles are nice and cool. I love the cool cover art photos. indeed I am not too follow the sports-themed movie, but I like your post about this movie. Thank you.

best regards from @sipildanarsitek

Great Post :)

Wishing you great success for that November event @donkeypong. I like to go to Nigeria one day in my travels. Your story is very touching indeed. Followed.

Very good post. The theme song to The Natural is still of my all-time favorite movie themes. Epic movie!

@donkeypong, I like the manner you describe sports i.e. baseball as a reason for people to unite and believe to do something together from which they create their reality ..

To me, sports is like steemit, which gives value, unity and significance to those who are involved. Kudos for the Steemit Nigeria initiative!

I have the weirdest story about this movie. When this film was released, I was 4 years old. I remember my dad taking me to go see this film along with a friend of his who also wanted to see it. The problem was that I was horribly sick, so about 3 or 4 times throughout the film, my dad would have to rush me to the bathroom so I could throw up. That's right, he didn't take me home. He kept bringing me back to the seats so we could continue watching it. He denied that actually happened for the rest of his life. LOL

I really like this post. Baseball was a big part of my life growing up. A mutual friend suggested I try to get your support for what I am doing on here. I am a recovering Heroin addict that is the Resident Manager at a transitional housing program for 16 guys. I also attend college full time for Digital Media Audio and Cinema. I have succeeded in creating a Discord Chat room for #Recovery-Addiction and it is growing slowly. I am trying to gain support to tell my story and reach people to show them if I can recover, anyone can. I hope this is not too forward but would you consider looking at my stuff and seeing what you think please? Thank you and God Bless!

I often see the images in your post, on this link and # if this articel on this link is you wrote and too you also like this sports ,do you a there of one image in this articel, or maybe among the image in this link is yours, please explanation about it !!! @donkeypong and @cheetah

Being Thankful and Paying It Forward.........,,,,,,,,

For many years of my life baseball was my greatest love!
I lived and breathed it. I was on teams all year around and played with my friends and brother every day when not playing with a team. I have so many wonderful memories of that and it was so good for my character development.
I had some moments of success, being on all star teams and winning some league championships. I was a pitcher and short stop when I was not pitching.

I love that cover photo of all the old gloves. I used to watch baseball games every night during the MLB season and the photo reminds me of some of the old greats I loved like Mickey Mantle.

Thanks for sharing this post. Brings up a lot of memories/feelings for me.

This worth reading

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