Long Gone [1987]

Kevin Costner might have had a hammerlock on baseball movies in the late 1980s with Bull Durham and Field of Dreams, but this 1987 HBO film with a few mid-level stars was (and still is) very good in its own way. William L. Petersen (Manhunter) is a player-manager for a 1950s minor-league team whose fortunes and hopes turn around during their battle for a championship. As with Bull Durham, this comedy has the feeling of taking place in a world larger than that of baseball, and thus provides useful perspective into why the game is so central in people's lives each spring. Another similarity is the farm-team milieu, a life of abridged hopes and stardom outside the Show--the thematic implication being that most of us have some kind of Show we can only admire from a distance. (Underscoring the point is a nice performance by Virginia Madsen as a small-town beauty queen.) But hope does come in Long Gone, and because of its sharp dialogue and enjoyable acting (by Dermot Mulroney, Larry Riley, Henry Gibson, Katy Boyer, and Teller) this film deserves to be included in anyone's collection of baseball features. --Tom Keogh

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