I still miss baseball! Luckily, I’ve still got plenty of baseball films to keep me busy until the MLB gets its act together and starts up again. I hope we’ll get baseball this year but if we don’t, at least I can watch a movie like Bang The Drum Slowly.
Bang The Drum Slowly is the ultimate baseball movie. It’s about a pitcher named Henry Wiggin (Michael Moriarty) who plays for the New York Mammoths and who has a side job selling insurance and writing books. When it’s time to renegotiate his contract, Henry says that he’ll re-sign with the team if the team agrees to not release or trade one of their catchers, Bruce Pearson (a really young Robert de Niro). Henry says that he and Bruce are a package deal. No one can understand why Henry cares because Bruce isn’t an outstanding player and everyone thinks that he’s slow but Henry finally gets the team’s general manager, Dutch (Vincent Gardenia), to agree to his terms. What only Henry knows is that Bruce is terminally ill and that he will be lucky to survive the entire season.
Though the Mammoth eventually make a run for the World Series and there’s a lot of great baseball footage, Bang the Drum Slowly is more about friendship than it is about winning or losing. Henry is willing to sacrifice everything to make sure that Bruce enjoys his final days and Bruce finally gets to play on a wining team. Because Bruce is so young and he appears to be so healthy for most of the film, it’s really devastating when he suddenly does get ill and he’s finally has to come to terms with his mortality. I cried a lot while I was watching Bang The Drum Slowly. You will too.
The other players eventually rally around Bruce and they become a stronger teams as a result. That’s one of the things that I love about baseball. One player, no matter how good, can’t win a game on his own. Instead, the entire team has to work together. Not everyone can go out and try to hit a home run. That’s not the way you win at baseball. Instead, you win by doing what you have to do to bring your teammates home. Bang The Drum Slowly celebrates friendship and loyalty and it perfectly captures the spirit of the game.
We may not be able to watch baseball right now. But at least we can watch movies like Bang The Drum Slowly.