Original movie poster
|Directed by||Arthur Hiller|
|Produced by||Walter Coblenz
|Written by||John Fusco|
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein|
|Editing by||Robert C. Jones|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||April 17, 1992|
|Running time||115 min.|
|Gross revenue||$17,530,973 (USA)|
The story begins in 1902 in Baltimore, Maryland, where an undiscplined and troubled boy George Herman Ruth is sent to the St. Mary's Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory and orphanage. Ruth is sent by his father, George Herman Ruth Sr. (Bob Swan), who cannot handle raising the boy. At the school, Ruth was schooled by Catholic missionaries and was made fun of by other children, because of his large size. Brother Matthias Boutlier (James Cromwell), the Head of Discipline at St. Mary's, first introduced Ruth to the game of baseball. During a session of batting practice, Ruth hit several towering home runs off of Matthias, who was pitching. Brother Matthias and others were amazed of Ruth's amazing power to drive the ball.
The film then flashes forward to 1914. A 19-year old Ruth (John Goodman) is on St. Mary's baseball team. Ruth continues to excel as a powerful hitter and a great pitcher. Ruth's amazing skills come to the attention of Jack Dunn (J.C. Quinn). Since Ruth is underage, Dunn decides to adopt Ruth and sign him to a contract with the Baltimore Orioles. In the middle of the 1914 baseball season, Ruth is sold to the Boston Red Sox. As a member of the Red Sox, Ruth begins to gain wide attention for his home runs and becomes popular in Boston. However, he angers Red Sox owner Harry Frazee during a party, and following the 1919 season, Ruth demands a raise, and a suite for road games, so Frazee sells him to the New York Yankees to finance his broadway shows, which had cost him money ($125,000 (the same amount of money that Frazee got for selling Ruth) to be exact).
Ruth becomes very popular in New York, as he helps the Yankees win the World Series in 1923. Also, in one game, he hits two home runs for a little boy named Johnny, whom he had recently visited in hospital. However, two years later, after divorcing his first wife, Helen Woodfood (Trini Alvarado), Ruth starts to go into a slump, while fellow teammate Lou Gehrig (Michael McGrady) becomes known as the "Iron Man" (a name that, in reality, belonged to Cal Ripken Jr., who broke Gehrig's consecutive games played record. Gehrig was known as the Iron Horse.). After getting pelted with lemons during a game, he gets angry and storms onto the dugout, yelling at the crowd, who continue to pound him with lemons.
However, in 1927, Ruth returns to his old self and hits 60 home runs, breaking his old record of 59 home runs. In 1932, during the World Series against the Cubs, in Game 3, Ruth, during an at-bat, points to centerfield and hits a towering home run, "calling his shot".
The film ends with Ruth broken, trudging alone through the entrance tunnel. He is confronted by a man... it is Johnny, now grown up. The Babe is still his hero, as they part he calls after him "You're the best... you're the best there's ever been".
The film took several liberties with Ruth's life and career. Most notably in its portrayal of his "Called Shot" and his hitting of two home runs for a sick child. While the sick child story is a long-standing Ruth myth, the Called Shot's authenticity is still debated to this day. Nevertheless, the dramatic scene portrayed in the movie is mostly fabrication. The film also takes license with Ruth's first and final career homers. In the film, Ruth hits his first homer as a newcomer to the Red Sox in 1914. Ruth actually played sporadically for the Sox in 1914 and did not homer until 1915. His three final home runs did indeed come at Forbes Field in one afternoon; however, he did not retire following (or during) the game as seen in the film, furthermore Ruth did not have a "designated runner" who would take over for Ruth upon reaching first base. Ruth appeared in five more games that year before injuring his knee and hanging it up.
Chicago's Wrigley Field stood in for Yankee Stadium during filming. Temporary walls were placed over the ivy-covered brick for the New York scenes. The ivy is depicted during the 1932 World Series scenes, where the action is taking place at Wrigley Field, although in 1932, the ivy had not yet been planted. Similarly, in a scene during Ruth’s career with the Yankees, in a 1925 game vs. the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, he hits a home run and the Green Monster is depicted. The Green Monster at that time was actually covered with advertisements; it was not painted solid green until 1947.
Danville Stadium in Danville, Illinois, was where the scenes for Fenway Park and Forbes Field were filmed, as well as the black/white news footage.
The film received mostly negative reviews from critics. In an interview on Inside the Actors Studio, John Goodman admitted that he was disappointed in his own performance. The A.V. Club called it "the worst baseball biopic the world had ever seen".