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A night with “The Natural”

As I lay down the other night around 9 p.m., I thought I would watch about five minutes of television before I started doing that “head-bobbing” thing people do when they get really sleepy. While flipping through the channels, I found one station that was airing “The Natural” with Robert Redford.

It was about halfway finished, which was good for me; I was going to finish it even if it had just started because I love that movie. Roy Hobbs and his perfect yet destructive swing had taken priority over an early bedtime.

For those of you who haven’t seen this movie, just stop reading right now and go watch it, even if you don’t like sports. While it’s technically a baseball movie, I’ve always seen it more as a great film that just happens to have baseball in it.

“The Natural” focuses on Redford’s character, Roy Hobbs, and his unwavering love of the game in the face of corruption and evil. Hobbs represents the purity and love of the game, but also naïve innocence. He made mistakes when he was younger that derailed his career and still haunt him as a 35-year-old “rookie” who at one point could have been the best baseball player ever. The movie focuses on his journey towards redemption.

I watched in eager anticipation of the final scene, where Hobbs is at bat in the bottom of the ninth with the pennant on the line against a talented Nebraska farm boy – a younger, promising version of himself. It was a subtle and perfect way for Hobbs to complete his redemption and put the mistakes of his past to rest.

With his final swing, Hobbs hits the ball so hard that he knocks the lights out of the stadium, and as he rounds the bases amidst the shower of sparks and cheers, he finds peace with his baseball career and himself.

And only then was I able to roll over and go to sleep.