It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I was absolutely lousy in Little League. I was a sub for one season, screwing up every play I was involved in. I stopped out there in the middle of right field, squinting into the sun, hoping desperately that the ball would not come my way. If it did, I didn't use my glove to catch it. I used the glove for protection.
I was, in fact, a lot like Henry Rowengartner, the 12-year-old hero of "Rookie of the Year." It seemed like the other kids had always known how to play baseball, and that I would never know. When I was a kid, I think I might have liked "Rookie of the Year" a lot. I am no longer a kid, and this movie is not likely to make my list of the year's best, but I can remember those miserable Little League games and so in a modest way I'm grateful for this film. It is pure wish-fulfillment, 40 years after I needed it.
"Rookie of the Year" is about how Henry is the worst Little League player in history, until he steps on a ball and breaks his shoulder and is fitted with a cast that makes it look like he's always raising his arm in class. When the cast comes off, his dad takes him to Wrigley Field, and he catches a home run ball while he's out in the bleachers, and then he throws it back - all the way to the catcher behind the plate.
There is an immediate sensation. Who is this kid with the rifle arm and the 100-m.p.h. delivery? It appears that the surgery or the injury has tightened his tendons in such a way that he can throw the ball faster than anyone in history. Henry becomes an overnight celebrity, and is signed to the Cubs by the team's genial owner (Eddie Bracken). Of course he becomes a star pitcher and wins the big game at the end of the movie.