SHOELESS
Bull Durham meets
" Field of Dreams"

 



Click on image to see a larger version.

In his declining years, the "greatest natural baseball player of all time" desperately escapes his past. A rising baseball star desperately escapes his destiny. A misplaced northern mill owner is desperate to escape the South. When these three desperadoes clash in South Carolina's 1951 cauldron of textile mill life, it's not only baseballs that are battered at the final at-bat of immortal "Shoeless" Joe Jackson on his field of Reckoning.

A bitter liquor-store owner, maybe old Shoe knows he's dying, back home in milltown.

Jimmy Roberts, a young baseball player, asks Shoe to coach him into "the show," to escape the soul-sucking mill life. Maybe Jimmy can marry his mountain girl princess, just like Shoeless did in 1906. But maybe Shoe will mentor no one. Baseball lost faith in Shoeless; deceived, Shoeless lost faith in baseball. His wife, Katie, prods Shoe to coach Jimmy and confront his own past. Relenting, Shoeless slides back into lint-league baseball, full of the heartache, disappointment, and the ignominy he spent half of his life trying to forget.

Baseball becomes the "game of life" where Shoe and Jimmy find redemption.

Jimmy lives with his mother, Thelma, who introduces him to Rhoda Dawkins, a pretty mountain girl, who shows Jimmy how to look for beauty, everywhere: "Seein' things true" becomes a major theme of the film, be it baseball or life. Katie and Rhoda play parallel roles in helping Shoe and Jimmy to "see things true.' Thelma sacrifices her body to the mill owner, just to give her son a chance. Katie drives Shoe home to baseball, his last chance hit true to himself.

Stuck in the Old South, Conestee Mill owner Abe Roth parlays his third consecutive Textile Baseball League Championship and slugger Crusher Goodlett's contract into a piece of the New York Yankees and an exit from his southern hell. When Senator Yancey Gilchrist authors a resolution to re-instate Shoeless into baseball, suddenly a lot more than a lint-league championship is at stake.*

Abe offers Jimmy a minor-league contract to play for the Yanks if he throws the final game. Disillusioned by Shoe's participation in the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, Jimmy agrees. In their final confrontation on the "Field of Reckoning," shoeless convinces Jimmy to "see things true": Baseball, like life, isn't just a game; baseball's the game of life. Shoe's last at-bat is his last pitch for redemption. What will one of the greatest hitters of all time do in his last appearance at the plate?

Sepia flashbacks of Shoeless Joe's ordeal in major league baseball punctuate the painful acceptance of his past. Hilarious idiosyncrasies of the Textile Baseball League, contrasted with life in a Southern mill town, become the dramatic setting for the story of a dying American icon's race for redemption. Batter up!


* Recently, Senators Strom Thurmond and Fritz Hollings were instrumental in reopening the Baseball Commission's case, which bans Joe Jackson from Major League Baseball for life, in order to posthumously pardon Shoeless and induct "the greatest natural baseball player of all time' into the Baseball Hall of Fame.