Lloyd Nolan is at the top of his form in this movie about a Brooklyn baseball team fighting to go from chumps to champs. There’s no reference to the Dodgers. It has the typical feelings of the day that there’s Brooklyn and then the rest of the world.
The owner of the team has to find a new manager. Mrs.”Mac” McAvoy wants to bring back Frank “Butterfingers” Macguire. Seven years ago he cost Brooklyn the pennant when he bobbled the ball on a routine play. Due to the harassment of fans and the press, especially sports writer Danny Mitchell (Robert Armstrong) he left town. He been in the bush leagues in Texas.
Brooklyn talent scout Sam Sloan (William “Fred Mertz” Frawley) is against the idea. Mac goes to find him anyway and convinces him to return. Frank is back living with his parents. Mom (Jane Darwell) is real happy to see him back and so is Pop. The kid next door, Roy Collins, is all grown up and wants to play ball.
Things may be looking up but then Mac dies. Her heirs, including her niece Kathryn Baker (Carol Landis) want to sell the team. Frank gets frustrated as he tries to explain to them what a pinch hitter is and why they need money for good ball players. They don’t have a clue. Kathryn saves the day and says no sale.
Kathryn starts to spend money and build the team. No surprise romance blooms between Frank and Kathryn. Things are going well but Mitchell keeps taking shots at the team even though they’re winning. During a close call at home a Brooklyn player is called out. From out of the stands comes O’Doul. He slugs the ump and now it’s time to go to court.
Frank make a speech to the judge (Jed Prouty) about Brooklyn pride and saves O’Doul from going to jail. Kathryn looks on. One night Frank has a speaking engagement. He also has a date with Kathryn. She waits and fumes at a nightclub and finally gives up and leaves. Frank calls but it’s too late. The romance heads south.
Things get worse as Mitchell trashes new pitcher Roy Anderrson. He’s really Frank’s neighbor Roy Collins. He’s using an alias because he didn’t want his father to know he was playing baseball instead of being a traveling salesman selling toothbrushes. His Dad is not a baseball fan so he won’t know.
The column shakes Roy before a big game. He comes out to pitch and is wild. The crowd boos and he’s shaken even more. Frank finally has to pull him out. The team starts losing. Mitchell makes some smart remarks to Frank and that gets him punched out. The losing streak continues and the players sign a petition to get rid of Frank. They can save their breath. Frank quit.
You don’t have to be a baseball fan to enjoy this one. It’s not the best sports film of the era but it’s worth it to see Nolan’s performance.
Jane Darwell won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Ma Joad in “The Grapes Of Wrath” (1940).