Knuckleball Movie Perfect Pre-World Series Warmup

Better late than never.

I kept putting off the DVD viewing of Knuckleball. I was like the kid determined to make my Halloween candy stash last until Christmas goodies were available.

Sure enough, this baseball feast waited for me, helping to stave off the hunger I felt as the regular season ended.

First of all, I’m calling this a movie. Nope, it’s not fiction. Doesn’t matter. “Documentary” makes some viewers squirm. As in, “that sounds good for me, like a platter of turnips. Can’t we watch a movie.”

That’s code for “movie = fun.”

Knuckleball is fun. We see the characteristics of the pitchers brave enough to throw a maligned pitch. Hall of Famer Phil Niekro is a Hall of Fame storyteller, a skill never showcased before this movie.

Credit directors Annie Sundberg (no relation to Jim) and Ricki Stern with coaxing great answers from R.A. Dickey, Tim Wakefield and Charlie Hough, too. I was amazed at the golf-weekend conversations captured as the four knuckleballers interviewed each other.

There’s more than an hour of bonus materials. Sundberg and Stern did their homework with these extended interviews.

My favorite moment in the movie? Dickey asks Hough to review one of his past games by video. They watch, only to giggle delightedly when a struck-out Pirates batsman goes nuts in the dugout, smashing his lumber.

“Sure. Blame the bat,” Hough chides.

I’ve written before about asking good questions. Red Sox catcher Doug Mirabelli speaks at length about “Wakey.” It’s easy to imagine the pitch, harder to appreciate the men who’ve depended on the alternative. Such moments stress how to get at the “how does it feel?” aspect of baseball.

The World Series doesn’t last forever. If you fret about being able to survive until spring training, here’s the solution. This Knuckleball is the perfect pitch for this off-season.

Cub Roe Skidmore Reflects On Illinois Roots

All Cubs fans of the early 1970s knew
these voices: Vince Lloyd (left) and
Lou Boudreau. The pair let listeners know
an Illinois native was in uniform!
(photo courtesy WGN Radio)

Roe Skidmore got special pleasure out of his roots.

For starters, he was no average Cubs prospect. He was an ILLINOIS NATIVE playing for an Illinois team.

This fact wasn’t lost on the media.

Skidmore noted:
“Jerome Holtzman and Rick Talley were newspaper writers at that time, and they did several articles on me being from Illinois. Jack Brickhouse, Lou Boudreau and Vince Lloyd also had me on the radio pre-game show several times.”

Despite his brief time as a Cub, Skidmore later felt the pride of being connected to a winning team. How?

“I currently scout for the Baltimore Orioles, but scouted for the Phillies for several years before coming to the Orioles. When with the Phillies, I was instrumental in signing Ryan Howard (from St. Louis area) and Jason Werth (Springfield, IL area).”

Skidmore played more than 1,200 games in the minors. He earned his seniority — and Topps card. Thanks, Roe!

Cub Roe Skidmore Knows 1971 Topps

Friends Kyle and
Tyler Smego
scored Skidmore
in 2012. See his
answers to their
letter at their
swell site,
“The Autograph Addict.”

Roe Skidmore made that one career hit as a Chicago Cub count.

Topps deemed him worthy of inclusion in the next year’s set.

Card #121, “1971 Rookie Stars CUBS,” pictures Skidmore below pitcher Jim Dunegan.

More than 40 years later, what does he see on that card?

Skidmore replied:

“The 1971 Topps picture was actually taken in spring training at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona.

To this day, I receive approximately 2 to 3 dozen cards per week from collectors to autograph. Still feels good that people remember me.”

Coming Thursday: An Illinois native playing for the Cubs!

The Heart-warming History of Cub Roe Skidmore

Mr. Skidmore is a marvel. I love
the custom card-work of Dave Auwerda.
And the former player agreed. It’s
so sad to see ex-players not
appreciating such tributes. Check
out Dave’s site, please:

I received one awesome letter from Roe Skidmore, a brief member of the 1970 Chicago Cubs. He was one of the AAAA stalwarts of the early 1970s, someone who conquered AAA but couldn’t get a full shot at the majors.

I’m grateful that such men like Skidmore aren’t bitter, but cheer on collectors.

I loved most the story about his one game in the majors: Sept. 17, 1970.

Skidmore wrote:

“In 1962 (my junior year of high school) we won the Illinois State Baseball Championship — Eisenhower HS, Decatur, Ill.

As luck would have it, my HS baseball coach was in attendance at Wrigley Field that day.

After the game, I called my Dad and we cried together on the phone! First Big League Hit!!!”

Coming Monday: Skidmore’s one Topps card.

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