Posts Tagged ‘Pete Rose’

“We’re all told at some point and time that we can no longer play the child’s game. We just don’t know when that time will be. Some of us are told at 18. Some of us are told at 40. But we’re all told.”
—Baseball scout in Moneyball

My first experiences with organized baseball. (Front row, left of center in both photos.) Johnny Bolton was a Ford Dealership in Maitland, Florida. Looks like a casting call for the movie “The Sandlot.”

In the summer of 1970, I went to a baseball game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati and it was my first live experience with Major League Baseball. The stadium was brand new and (if my memory is correct) there were about 50,000 in attendance for that summer game. I was nine years old and had never been anywhere with 50,000 people in one place. It was mesmerizing. Our seats were in left field weren’t great, but I had nothing to compare it to so I was thrilled. Watching MLB games at that point in my life were mostly starring at a 19″ black and white TV that picked up four channels with a rabbit ears antenna. Though I was raised in Central Florida, Disney World was still a year away from opening. I don’t remember anything about the game. But I have a photograph in my mind of a banner in right field that read “Rose Garden.” It was there because that’s where Pete Rose was positioned.

If you wanted to tell the story of professional baseball in one person, you couldn’t go wrong picking Pete Rose. (The short list would include Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, and Ty Cobb.) But with Rose you get high levels of both success and failure—highs and lows. He holds the Major League Baseball record for total hits (4256), played in 17 All Star games, was a key player on the Cincinnati Reds who won two World Series in the ’70s—and in 1989 he became the first player since 1943 banned from baseball for life.

And while his gambling on baseball games while a manager for the Reds also prevents him from being voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, there are still several Rose references in the Hall of Fame including this jersey when he was a part of what was known as The Big Red Machine.

From Little League through high school, his gung-ho style of play was what I tried to emulate the most. When I was around 12, I got to attend a baseball clinic that Rose did at Tinker Field in Orlando. I’m seated in the back next to his right knee in the photo below. (Oddly wearing a Miami Dolphin football jersey if I remember correctly.) I don’t remember anything about that day except Rose said there was a mix-up and he didn’t have his Reds uniform with him. But it was still a cool life experience to have in your past.

My own personal baseball hall of fame with memorabilia from my youth. Including a flip book I wrote simply called “Baseball.”

I didn’t blaze any Pete Rose-like trails in my playing days, but I did make some All-Star teams and played on two of the best teams in Lake Howell school history. My senior year we had a 14 game winning streak and won our conference. (The year after I left, Dave Martinez played at Lake Howell on his way to going pro as a player, and as a manager leading the Washington Nationals in becoming the 2019 World Series champs.)

I played my last real baseball game at age 18—and never was able to grow a proper mustache.

Baseball and baseball movies have brought me many wonderful experiences and memories over the years. Rose being banned from baseball didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks because I was a grown man and had seen plenty of the darker side of humanity by then.

My next post will look at talent as it relates to baseball, filmmaking, and screenwriting.

P.S. Unfortunately, the real story of interest to my playing days may be one of the guys I played baseball with in high school went on to be known as “Columbian Jake” where he became involved in underage sex tourism in Medellin—a bad career choice—and ended up getting busted and died allegedly by suicide in a Columbian prison in 2017. I’m sure there is a story there, but I really don’t care to know any more than what I read in a couple of articles. How in the world did this post start out talking about Little League baseball in Florida and end up with a dead gringo in a prison in Latin America? Because truth is stranger than fiction.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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When I heard that baseball great Joe Morgan died over the weekend my memory snapped back to the 1970s. It was 1975 & 1976 when the Cincinnati Reds not only won back to back World Series, but Morgan was the National League MVP both years.

I was 14 and 15 years old those years and couldn’t have been more thrilled. The first major league game I saw was in Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati and I not only have a scrapbook of Reds clippings— I have two. (Guess that’s I how I did it back in the days before blogging.)

In 1970 when the Baltimore Orioles beat the Reds in the World Series I took it harder than I should have for a 9-year-old. Two years later my heart was broken again when the Oakland A’s beat them in the 1972 World Series. Three years later Morgan drove in the winning run in game 7 of the great ’75 Series against the Boston Red Sox and it was euphoric. (Between being a Reds and Cowboy fan between 1970-1975—and seeing Brian’s Song in 1971—I got to experience a wide range of emotions that would prepare me well for life’s ups and downs.)

Some have said the 5’7” Morgan was the final piece needed to make the Reds The Big Red Machine. They had Pete Rose, Johnny Beach, and a lot of other firepower, but Morgan brought a golden glove, a great on-base percentage, could steal bases, and hit with power. Skills that made him a ten time All Star over his career.

But because he was so short, he almost didn’t have a career. He had no pro offers or 4-year scholarships out of high school in Oakland, California. He played at a 2-year school and did well enough to get a small contract ($3,000 signing bonus and $500 a month) with the Houston Colt .45s. He did well enough in the minor leagues to play his first MLB game at age 20.

And by the time his career was over he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his first attempt. He was simply one of the greatest second basemen in the history of the game. More amazing that is the fact that he did it all at just 5’7”, and faced enough racism early in his career that he almost quit playing. When his playing days were over he became an Emmy-winning broadcaster.

My admiration for Pete Rose and Johnny Bench was high, but since I played second base from Little League through high school, Joe Morgan was my true north. Especially since I was always one of the shortest guys on any team I played on.

My senior year our school won its conference and once had a 14 game winning streak which was said to be a county record (and one I’m not sure was ever broken). It was my teaspoon taste of being Joe Morgan for a season. (There’s Little League talent, high school talent, college talent, minor league pro talent, MLB talent, and Hall of Fame talent. Baseball and screenwriting share that talent hierarchy.)

The year after I graduated Dave Martinez played right field for the Lake Howell Silver Hawks. Last year as manager his Washington Nationals team were World Series champs.

Thanks to MLB Network for helping us remember many fond Joe Morgan memories.

P.S. As a kid I used to see Joe Morgan and the Reds play the Minnesota Twins at Tinker Field in Orlando, Florida. Back in 2014 I made this micro-doc as they were preparing to knock down that stadium.

Wore my Reds hat at yesterday’s shoot in tribute to Joe Morgan

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“Take the shot when you think you’ve got the moment.”
Christopher Lockhart

We continue our baseball themed week today by looking at Pete Rose. When Rose was a rookie with the Cincinnati Reds he picked up the nickname Charlie Hustle as a derogatory comment after he’d run to first after he walked, and because he’d slide head first into bases.

Rose embraced the nickname and there were a lot of Little League ballplayer who wanted to be just like Rose. I was one of them and in my micro doc Tinker Field: A Love Story I mention going to a baseball camp Rose did back in the day.

Here’s a picture from that camp. (I’m the little guy in the background next to where’s Rose’s left knee.) Charlie Hustle is a good metaphor for what is required of screenwriters. Don’t take my word for it, read the quote below my WME Story Editor Christopher Lockhart.


“It’s funny because when I would go out with my wife sometimes we’d be at an event or something and she’d always get annoyed when people would find out where I worked and then say, ‘Well, I have a script.’ And she’d think it was rude or that’s not why we’re there and it would piss her off because she didn’t want me talking about business. And I’d always say to her, ‘Look—it’s their job. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing.’ It sucks for me, it’s worse for you, but that’s what [screenwriters] are supposed to be doing….Take the shot when you think you’ve got the moment…Anybody in this business has to hustle. You just have to. And if you’re not a hustler, it’s not the best business for you. Unless you’re an amazing writer and the writing is going to do all the hustling for you.”
Christopher Lockart
Final Draft Webinar
And for the record Lockhart says half of 1% of screenwriters are amazing writers.)

P.S. Pete Rose is still hustling.

Scott W. Smith

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Here’s the micro documentary personal project I’ve been working on this month about the Tinker Field baseball park where the Minnesota Twins held spring training until 1990. It may not be the Polo Grounds or Ebbets Field—but for many people this place holds a lot of memories.

This is my memory…

Scott W. Smith


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“What’s so wonderful about surfing is that it not only connects you with the ocean but also a certain energy in nature. When you’re surfing, it’s like you really are tapping into that source.”
Novelist/screenwriter Kem Nunn

“Let me hasten to say I’m not comparing myself to St. Paul. But I know what it is to do what you never dreamed of doing, what you never thought you’d be capable of doing. The utter mystification that you experience. ‘How did I get here? How did this happen?'”
Four-time Primetime Emmy winning writer David Milch
The Writer’s Voice

HBO’s John from Cincinnati (2007) was created by David Milch and Kem Nunn and used the sport of surfing as an integral backdrop in a way that was as refreshing as it was obscure. You didn’t always don’t what you were watching, but you knew you were watching something different. There was supernatural levitation and artificial medication, a family with three generations of active surfers, and Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business) as a late forties pretty attractive grandma, all set in the border town of Imperial Beach, California.

The show only lasted one season. Perhaps due to the fact that shows that are existential and mystical tend to have a wee bit harder time finding an audience than, say, the average reality show. Still the final episode had 3 million viewers.

“Perhaps the most important aspect of writing truly great television (and naturally something I’ve always been good at) is coming up with dialog that just barely resembles what each character is trying to say. When people have to work to understand what the hell is going on, they presume (correctly!) that they must be watching fine art.”
David Milch
The David Milch School of Screenwriting
(That link even has an example from John from Cincinnati to explain what he means.)

Milch did his undergraduate work in English at Yale, earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa before becoming an Emmy-winning writer on the TV shows Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. He’s perhaps most well-known for creating the HBO show Deadwood. In 2006 he was awarded the Outstanding Television Writers Award at the Austin Film Festival.

“My  understanding of the way the mechanism of storytelling works is …whether or not the audience is conscious of the process, apart from the audience awareness that there is a process, any story is constantly appending specific values to the meanings of words, and of the actions of characters.”
David Milch
Variety article “John from Cincinnati”: David Milch Speaks

John from Cincinnati’s co-creator, Nunn has been called “America’s most accomplished surfer novelist.” He graduated with an MFA from the writing program at UC Irvine, and his first novel Tapping the Source was nominated for an American Book Award,  later followed by The Dogs of Winter, Tijuana Straits which he calls his “surf trilogy.” On the back cover of Tapping the Source writer Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty) wrote,”Kem Nunn is one of a rare breed, a novelist who knows how to plot and tell a story. There is amazing energy here.”

Like it or not, you have to applaud HBO for allowing John from Cincinnati to step up to the plate.

Pete from Cincinnati

Speaking of stepping up to the plate, when I think of Cincinnati one of the first names that comes to mind is Pete Rose who used to play baseball for the Cincinnati Reds. Through he holds the record for most hits in major league baseball he’s barred from MLB and the Baseball Hall of Fame—for gambling on baseball. Since I grew up in the ’70s putting together a scrapbook on The Big Red Machine and wanting to be Pete Rose I’ve followed his life story with great interest. (Even went to a baseball camp he did one day at Tinker Field in Orlando.) The other day I came across this short piece on Rose produced by ESPN that I found as an engaging chapter in his  life, and one I was unfamiliar with.

Rob from Dayton

How does Rob Lowe pop up on this post? Simple, he also grew up in the 70s following the Cincinnati Reds and is a surfer. He started acting as youth while living in Dayton, Ohio (about an hour’s drive from Cincinnati), before moving to Malibu, CA during his high school years on his way to being an actor in The Outsiders, Wayne’s World, The West Wing, and currently Parks and Recreation.

I met Lowe at a John Mellencamp concert at the Universal Amphitheater in LA. It was 1984 or ’85 I believe and he was sitting right in front of me so I was like, “Hey dude, I was born in Dayton.” You can imagine how impressed he was by that revelation, but he was gracious. (Later learned that Lowe went to Oakwood Junior High just a couple of blocks from where my grandmother lived on Harman Avenue in the Dayton/Oakwood area.) Dayton has a well establish history in theater and I remember going to Marion’s Pizza as a kid and seeing walls full of black and white photos of famous/semi-famous/used to be famous actors who had performed in Dayton.

As these posts on surfing have been kicking around my brain for the last week I started to write down ideas for a story that takes place on the East Coast of Florida. Right now it’s just 3X5 index cards of notes of personal experiences, people and places/surf spots between Amelia Island and Sebastian Inlet. And on one of my note cards I have written “Rob Lowe-Surfer.” Writing actor bait? Why not? Tell me that a very in shape Rob Lowe wouldn’t want to be in a movie that featured him as a surfer if the script was good.

Same reason the athletic Kevin Costner did three baseball movies (Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, For the Love of the Game), one golf movie (Tin Cup), and one bike racing movie (American Flyers). So there’s my stake in the ground—we’ll see where it leads.

Can’t you see the movie poster?  Kelly Slater, C.J. HobgoodKatrina Petroni and Rob Lowe…

Slater has said, “I have acted, I wouldn’t consider myself an actor” and when asked by CBS what Baywatch did for him he smiled and said, “Ruin my street credibility.” So don’t look for him to be acting anytime soon. But maybe if Lowe gets involved in The Kelly Slater Foundation they can at least produce a project on surfing together.

I have one more post to write following this surfer thread and it will be about a man who was born, raised and died in Wisconsin yet was a key part of the modern-day surfing movement. Gotta love the outsiders.

In the meantime, in the spirit of Edward Burns seeking true honeymoon situations for his film Newlyweds, if you have a surf anecdote you’d like to pass my way send it to: info@scottwsmith.com. It could be as simple as a sufer friend of mine San Diego way who had a shot on Facebook recently of his foot in a bucket of water with a caption about his 39th stingray sting. According to him, “Coronado is the motherload for stringrays.” Don’t remember ever seeing that in a surf film. I’m not looking for story ideas, just that stingray kind of authenticity.

P.S. Nine or ten years ago I produced a TV program that featured Katrina Petroni when she was an up and coming surfer. I’ll see if I can find some photos from that shoot we did at her home in Atlantic Beach, Florida.

Related Posts:
Screenwriting Via Index Cards
Writing Quote #19 (David Milch)
Writing Subtext (Tip #43)
Postcard #23 (New Smyrna Beach, FL)
Postcard #22 (Kelly Slater Statue)
Surf Movie History 101

NPR article on Rob Lowe as a kid meeting Liza Minnelli in Dayton, Ohio. She reportedly told him, “See you in Hollywood, kid.”

The Writing Seminar from Hell, Inspired By David Milch
New Yorker article by Michale Schulman

Scott W. Smith

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