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Friday, April 25, 2014

It Happens Every Spring: cheating?

We watched it every spring on TV.  WOR, I think, in New York.  Commissioner Allen Huber "Bud" Selig is old enough to have watched it in the movies.  Bud was born July 30, 1934, so he would have been 15 in 1949.  What life lesson did young Bud derive?

It Happens Every Spring  1949

A scientist discovers a formula that makes a baseball which is repelled by wood. He promptly sets out to exploit his discovery.

Stars: Ray Milland, Jean Peters, Paul Douglas

Ray Milland - Prof. Vernon K. Simpson / King Kelly

A college professor is working on a long term experiment when a baseball comes through the window destroying all his glassware. The resultant fluid causes the baseball to be repelled by wood. Suddenly he realizes the possibilities and takes a leave of absence to go to St. Louis to pitch in the big leagues where he becomes a star and propels the team to a World Series appearance.

Runtime: 87 min
Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color: Black and White
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1

Vernon Simpson's career-ending injury, catching the baseball for the final out in the ninth inning of the seventh and final game...

The story is at its funniest when Milland pitches and the ball dispy- doodles around the baseball bats of all the hitters. (He had invented a substance that applied to something makes it avoid touching wood, so applied to a baseball, a bat could never make contact.....and, yes, as one reviewer points out, that is cheating.)

Why Vernon isn't cheating!!!

by Turfseer Thu Oct 28 2010 23:23:59

... From Vernon's point of view, pitching with his now souped up baseball is simply another scientific experiment. It simply never occurs to him that applying a foreign substance to a baseball while pitching a game is illegal ...

When 'It Happens Every Spring' was being made, Major League Baseball refused to be associated with the film or assist the filmmakers in any way as they maintained that the story basically condoned cheating...

Finally, the films' scenarists were smart enough to allow Vernon to triumph without the assistance of his 'magical formula'. In a sense, the 'formula' is another one of his crutches. --SPOILER ALERT--When Vernon runs out of his wood repellant formula, he's forced to win the pennant essentially 'naked'--Vernon snares the screaming line drive with his bare hand. He's been 'punished' for his naivety and as a result, he'll never pitch again (the real world rears its ugly head!). At the same time, Vernon is a hero precisely because he sacrificed himself (he didn't have to grab that ball with his bare hand as he ended up doing). Vernon is restored to his native habitat, stronger and wiser. Viewing Vernon's behavior from this new angle will allow the discerning filmgoer to reject the view that the film promotes unethical behavior and is in fact, a delightful, entertaining fantasy-drama, promoting baseball as the true national pastime.

Of course Vernon would never have been in position to win the Word Series fairly had he not used the banned substance.  As I recall the story, the other players do not know that Vernon is using this stuff.  His supply is running out.  He does not know the formula as it was created by accident and he cannot create more.

Does his ignorance of the rule excuse his behavior?

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