Baseball movies are watched every spring

I have a baseball movie to report on as well: since I had a cold and called in sick to work today, I took advantage of the extra time at home to watch “It Happens Every Spring,” which had been sitting on my TiVo since Fox Movie Channel ran it on December 15th. (Why would Fox Movie Channel run a baseball movie on December 15th, you ask? I have no evidence that Fox even realizes that Fox Movie Channel exists, much less pays any attention to their programming, so they just pull random Fox movies off the shelf and put them on TV.)

College chemistry professor Ray Milland inadvertently discovers that a substance can be applied to baseballs — or any object, for that matter — that makes it completely avoid contact with wood. So in order to make money for his wedding (to the daughter of the college president, he takes a leave of absence from his professorship and secretly goes to St. Louis to become a pitcher for the — well, they don’t use any team names in this movie, but if Levi wants to pretend it’s the Cardinals, I guess that would work, since the opponents mentioned are all cities that had National League teams in 1949. The exterior shots of the stadiums show that they all have names like “St. Louis Stadium,” “Pittsburgh Stadium,” “Brooklyn Stadium,” and so on.

The movie is a little ridiculous in that, despite the obvious strange hops the ball is taking, no opposing player or manager ever demands to examine the glove, in which Milland has a rag soaked with the substance hidden so he can wipe it on the ball. Why, that’s even more blatant than steroid abuse! (Someone on IMDB already made the comparison, I see.) But it’s not supposed to be a serious sports movie, it’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, so I guess we’re supposed to overlook that.

Interestingly enough, the crusty catcher who befriends Ray Milland is played by Paul Douglas — who, two years later, would play the crusty manager in the original version of “Angels in the Outfield,” another baseball movie in which the laws of physics are broken. And then he would have played another crusty baseball manager in a certain episode of “The Twilight Zone” if he hadn’t died during the filming. Talk about being typecast.

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