I am sure most of you can picture the scene… The Knights are playing the Pirates, game on the line, two men on, Roy Hobbs comes to the plate. A new pitcher comes in, a young fireballer. Roy hits a towering blast down the right field line that just barely goes foul. The bat is broken (remember the name of the bat?)– “Wonderboy” is no more. A new bat, the Savoy Special… A grimacing Roy Hobbs stands in, blood seeps out of his old gunshot wound, staining his #9 jersey. Up in the grandstands, Roy’s childhood sweetheart (played by Glenn Close) stands up in support for her old boyfriend and the father of her child. The pitch comes, a hard smash, going, going, going gone! Into the lights, showering sparks and fireworks as Roy Hobbs trots around the bases and the Knights win the game!
But wait! (insert your own sound effect for screaching halt)
Is that how it really happened or did you imagine it? Well, the answer is neither… you saw it in color, up on that big screen; but try this one out…
Before the game, Roy Hobbs goes to the office of the team’s owner and gets the proposition– lose the game, get a huge payday. Roy thinks long and hard…
Game time– Roy is having a difficult time of it. He isn’t making any contact. A heckler in the stands gives him a good one and Roy, angered by this, intentionally hits a foul ball at the heckler. It glances off the heckler’s head and careens over to…? Roy’s childhood gilfriend and the mother of his child. She is hit in the head, down for the count. Roy jumps into the stands to see if she is ok, and finally the game resumes.
Here is the moment. Two strikes, two out, the game on the line. Here comes the pitch… Roy swings…….. and misses. Strike 3, game over, Knights lose. After the game, a nice envelope full of money is waiting for Roy in the locker room. In a moment of clarity, Roy goes up to the owner’s office and raises a ruckus (no, not a reference to the Breakfast Club and I will NOT describe the ruckus), throwing the money back to the owner. After some gunplay in which Roy is shot in the back (a flesh-wound), Roy leaves the office, walks out to the street where the newspapers already have the scoop that Roy sold out the team for the money… “Say it ain’t so, Roy…” Roy walks alone, with the knowledge that he will never play baseball again, tears in his eyes. Fade to black.
Don’t believe me? Read the book. The 1952 the novel “The Natural” written by Bernard Malamud didn’t have the flashy Hollywood ending. It ended on the downer, a fable for how high our heroes can soar, and how mightily they can fall. In today’s day, with so many of our “heroes” (not just athletes, mind you, but actors and actresses, and musicians) being felled by drugs, bad decisions, or other self-imposed and avoidable tragedies, innocence appears to be lost.
Ahh, but being young and believing…. Believing that heroes do exist. Our military– HEROES. Our firefighters and policemen — HEROES. Our doctors and nurses — HEROES.
I know that people don’t typically think of lawyers or accountants or financial planners or insurance representatives or other service providers as heroes, but I want to be a hero. And I will take it one client at a time if I have to.
Who is with me? Heroes don’t have to exist as a product of Hollywood.