When I heard the sad news that Hall of Famer Bob Feller had been moved to hospice, I immediately thought of a strange artifact from my Vast and Dusty VHS Archives. It comes from the same tape as the 1989 clips I posted earlier this week. The thing is, whereas I watched the '89 preview many times waiting for that season to start, I have absolutely no memory of seeing this special as a kid. It languished unwatched until I rediscovered this tape as an adult.
It's a special called "Grand Slam," hosted by legendary sportswriter Dick Schaap. There's not a lot of information about this special out there on the interwebs. I googled deep into the night, but other than the fact that it was once released on VHS, I couldn't find anything substantial about it. I can't even find anything out about the song of the same name used during the title sequence. (The very end of the special was taped over by the aforementioned 1989 preview specials, thus robbing me of the potentially helpful end credits.) But I know it dates from 1989 because its broadcast was sponsored by "the brand new motion picture" Major League.
Not that there's a lot to discuss about this. "Grand Slam" is basically a loose collection of interviews with (then) living baseball legends, including Mr. Feller. For what purpose? No reason, just to talk about how awesome baseball is. Isn't that enough?
There are a few Mets items here as well. Tom Seaver shares a few thoughts about wanting to be a ballplayer from an early age. The opening titles have clips from both the 1962 and 1986 Mets (talk about a study in contrasts). And there's an odd sequence where a young man bikes to a ballpark and dreams of being on the field, playing in the bigs. I have a feeling you'll recognize the stadium he visits; just a hunch...
You'll see plenty of iconic players just in this small clip, but obviously Feller is the reason I'm posting it now. He talks about how he never wanted to be anything but a ballplayer--"which is probably a little bit odd," he adds. It's a lot less odd if you've got Bob Feller's arm.
There's also some footage of him as a young man on his family farm, his arms around his parents, throwing a ball with his father. He's just playing a game, dreaming of the bigs. A lifetime of glory awaits him, on the ballfield and the battlefield. But in this moment, there is nothing but promise.