The 2016 Major League Baseball season begins today and I'm so excited!!! My family have been baseball fans for generations and being from Southeast Texas, we root for the Houston Astros. After several years of mediocrity, the Astros had an amazing season last year. They made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2005 (when they played in but lost the World Series), had the Rookie of the Year award winner (Carlos Correa), the Cy Young pitching award winner (Dallas Keuchel), and our manager was nominated for Manager of the Year (A.J. Hinch) in his first season with the team. Craig Biggio, who has been one of my favorite players since his rookie year in 1988 when I was 11 years old, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is the first player to be inducted to the Hall as an Astro. It was a fun year and this year looks to be even better.
I do have a Gary connection here (three actually) and the first is the Gary Cooper who played for the Astros. Cooper only played one season and that was for the Astros in 1991.
In Meet John Doe (1941), Gary was a washed-up pitcher who went along with the phony John Doe character invented by Barbara Stanwyck in order to get enough money to have surgery on his arm and go back to pitching.
One year later in 1942, Gary was a baseball player yet again, albeit this time one with a much more successful career than "Long John Willoughby". Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, is my all-time favorite ball player and Gary did a masterful job of portraying him in The Pride of the Yankees (1942). Every time I watch that film it seems more like watching Gehrig instead of Gary.
"Lou Gehrig was to baseball what Gary Cooper was to the movies: a figure of unimpeachable integrity, massive and incorruptible, a hero. Today, both are seen as paradigms of manly virtue. Decent and God-fearing, yet strongly charismatic and powerful." - Kevin Nelson in The Greatest Stories Ever Told About Baseball (1986)
I highly recommend Jonathan Eig's biography about Lou titled Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig. It's a great read about not only one of the game's best players, but a great man as well.
Lou also had a Hollywood connection. In 1938 he starred in Rawhide (a quasi-Western) and he was actually not a half bad actor.
This clip from Field of Dreams (1989) beautifully explains what is so wonderful about baseball, America's national pastime.