- Call a time out, tell your coach, and get replaced by another relief pitcher? OR
- Intentionally walk 2 players, then get your team together, come up with two trick plays, and then toss the ball underhand across the plate to the best hitter on the opposing team?
For Henry Rowengartner of Rookie of the Year, the right answer was #2. And apparently the entire team was okay with it.
Henry is a 12 year old boy whose tendons “healed a little too tight” after breaking his arm. He then gains the ability to throw a baseball really fast. The owners of the Chicago Cubs, who at the time needed to sell out every baseball seat for the rest of the season in order to hold onto the team, likely because they have the worst bank in the world, decide to exploit 12 year old Henry, and bring him onto the team.
Henry pitches well, and most players cannot hit his fastball. The exception is nemesis Butch Heddo, a power hitter on the New York Mets that likes to taunt children.
Eventually, the Cubs start winning, and in the last game of the year, the Cubs play the Mets for the division title. Henry pitches two solid innings until he trips on a baseball, falls on his arm, and loses his ability to pitch 100mph fastballs. So what does he do? He intentionally walks two players and relies on their being incredibly stupid to get them out with trick plays.
The third batter up in the inning is Butch Heddo, Henry’s nemesis that has never had trouble hitting Henry’s pitches even when Henry was able to pitch 100mph. So what does Henry do? AFTER INTENTIONALLY WALKING TWO STRAIGHT PLAYERS, HE DECIDES TO ACTUALLY PITCH.
Which, okay, would be fine… except for the fact that his team, fully aware that Henry can no longer pitch fast, still insists that he pitch his fastball, a pitch that, contrary to popular belief, is actually only effective when thrown fast.
Under a lot of stress, Henry takes a second and steps off the rubber of the pitching mound. He then peels back a piece of tape on what he thought was his dad’s baseball glove, revealing that it was actually his mom that played baseball. (Now, you may think that I as the blog writer just neglected to explain the significance of Henry’s glove, but rest assured, this is the first time that the audience of the movie is introduced to it as well). Realizing that it was really his mom that was the baseball player, Henry shares a telepathic moment with his mom in which his mom instructs Henry to “float” the ball over the plate. What’s the significance of “floating” the ball? I don’t know. This was also left out of the movie. However, Henry does it, Heddo strikes out, the Cubs win, and players of Major League baseball go on strike the next year in 1994. The end.