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Movie Depicts Inspirational Story Of Oldest Baseball Rookie - 2002-04-08

With Major League Baseball's season just underway, it should come as no surprise that an inspirational movie about the sport would do well at the box office.

"The Rookie" made its debut Easter weekend and was the third most seen movie, pulling in $15.8 million in U.S. ticket sales. The film is based on the real life story of high school science teacher and baseball coach Jim Morris. The former minor league pitcher promised to try out for major league baseball's Tampa Bay Devil Rays to motivate his high school players.

"The kids and I had made this bet early in the season to try to get them to play better," he said. "And I took them up on it, knowing if they won, I would go and embarrass myself and go on with life."

To his surprise, Morris made the team, and at the age of 35 became the oldest rookie in the majors in almost 30 years. "I threw in the 80's [miles per hour] the first time around, and had been out of baseball for 10 and one-half years. And then to go to the tryout and all of a sudden find out you are throwing 98 [miles per hour].

Morris is played in the movie by actor Dennis Quaid, who talks about why he got involved in the film. "I did not want to just do a baseball movie," he said. "This film is about much more than that. Even people who are not baseball fans can relate to this movie, because it is about second chances in life."

Jim Morris made the most of his second chance. He played for two seasons before retiring for good.