On July 7th, 1993 an important piece of my childhood was born. Rookie of the Year may not get the recognition as The Sandlot, another kids baseball movie that came out earlier in the year, but it still holds a special place in a lot of people's hearts.
We all played sports in our backyard, dreaming of one day being able to make the pros. Rookie of the Year took that dream a step further. What if you didn't have to wait until you were older? What if you could play for your favorite team right now?
I was sold. So in honor of this movie's 20th anniversary, here are 20 reasons why it was amazing.
1. It was so delightfully 90s.
The Sandlot was great, but it was set in the 60s. It wasn't quite a representation of our childhoods. Rookie of the Year was the movie the 90s deserved. Just look at these outfits. It's a totally different kind of nostalgia.
2. John Candy was in it.
Sure he was underutilized and paled in comparison to other fake announcers like Harry Doyle from Major League, but c'mon, it's John Candy. Just seeing him on the screen made me feel all warm and fuzzy.
3. Henry wore jeans to his baseball game.
We all knew a kid like this. He was the worst. Accurate depiction of a terrible youth baseball player achieved.
4. Great line or greatest line?!?!
5. Henry's crush was played by the same girl who played Julie "The Cat" Gaffney in the Mighty Ducks movies.
She's basically 90's kids sports movie royalty.
6. Every kid wanted to break their arm after seeing this movie.
7. This throw.
Can somebody help explain the physics of this throw to me? So Henry throws 103 mph. Somehow that's fast enough to throw a frozen rope from the bleachers to home plate. Justin Verlander was wasted as a pitcher.
8. The manager butchering Henry's name.
Here is a complete list of the names the manager calls Henry Rowengartner:
- Henry Rulingfurter
9. Daniel Stern was great.
Rookie of the Year was also the first movie he ever directed. Acting-wise, he was just coming off Home Alone, City Slickers, and Home Alone 2; not a bad stretch at all.
I also think he was onto something with that whole "hot ice" deal.
10. Henry's friend.
This kid was hilarious. He overracted, yelled pretty much every line and was just your usual sports movie best friend who got mad at the main character for no reason. "Stupid Henry, I can't believe he's playing for the Cubs instead of helping us build our crappy boat. What a jerk."
11. OMG LOOK AT BARRY BONDS, YOU GUYS!
12. Accurate 12-year-old taunting.
You can't tell me you never used this line as a kid. At least tell me you never used it while doing this dance.
13. Gary Busey is the main love interest.
I repeat. Gary. Busey. Is. A. Love. Interest.
Yes. This guy.
P.S. This is how Busey signs Henry's ball in the movie. Gee, thanks.
14. The token "money changes people" transformation.
The guy dating Henry's mom goes from a schlubby douche to evil scheming manager who calls Henry "Hank" in no time.
15. Henry gets sold to the Yankees.
This is a real thing that happens in the movie. The most popular player in baseball suddenly gets straight up sold to the Yankees. Not traded. The Cubs got nothing but money back. And the evil manager says he would get the mom's signature to make it happen (necessary, of course) as long as the Cubs just straight up gave away Busey's character.
Because these things happen.
16. The final game.
I could write about 5,000 words on this game, but I'll try to keep it short.
Within about five minutes, characters say the following things:
- This game is to win the division.
- They are just one game from the World Series.
- "I'm saving you for the playoffs."
...Okay, sure. So then Busey's character goes six innings and in comes Henry. He proceeds to strike out nine batters in two innings (seriously, I counted) and then comes out for the ninth where he slips on a ball, hurts his shoulder and loses his ability.
At no point does anyone go "Welp, guess we should go to the bullpen." It's okay though, because Henry has a brilliant plan for the first two batters, but nothing for the third batter, who just happens to be best player in baseball. It's cool, guys. We'll just wing that one.
17. The Hidden Ball Trick!
I didn't even know this was a thing until I saw the movie. As a first baseman, I suggested this to my pitcher about five times a game for the rest of my playing career.
18. This guy.
He's on screen for maybe two minutes the whole movie, but damn if he's not memorable. Imagine if a WWE heel was the best hitter in baseball, this is what you would get.
19. Float it.
Can you believe the climax of the movie is the mom telling Henry to pitch underhanded and just serve up a meatball? What kind of advice was that? Yeah, it worked, but man that had to have like a 98 percent chance of backfiring.
Thankfully we get to see the dramatic slow-motion windup three times from three different angles.
20. End of movie update: Still wearing jeans to play baseball.