The batter shakes as the ball dances toward the plate. His palms sweaty, mouth dry, he is helpless at the mercy of the pitch that he has been thrown. Whoosh! The bat swings through the open air, never to make contact. The ball crashes against the catcher's mitt. The batter wails inside as he realizes that he has been thwarted yet again by the infamous knuckleball.
The movie "Knuckleball!" is a tribute to pitchers R.A. Dickey of the Mets and the retired Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox. It is an intriguing story of how two players were unable to make it into the major leagues but cannot bear to give up their dreams of playing baseball professionally. In their desperation, each turns to the most uncertain and unreliable tool in baseball: the knuckleball.
The documentary goes on to describe how their paths to success were littered with hardships, injuries and road bumps in their pitching and everyday lives. It shows that even when Dickey remained in the minor leagues for seven years and when Wakefield was cut from the Pittsburgh Pirates, they never lost their determination and belief in a brighter future. With the assistance of their coaches, fathers and former Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro, they eventually mastered the elusive pitch and began their journeys toward stardom.
Today, one has retired after winning 200 games, the other is the Mets' top starter. They both make a comfortable living and have children who adore them. However, through all their successes and rewards, they have never forgotten the one tool that got them through their time of desperation and hardship: the knuckleball.
"Knuckleball!" is an inspirational story of hard work, determination, desperation and triumph. The movie reminds us that even if you're underrated, never given a chance or rejected, you must keep faith and come back to try another day.
After previewing the movie, we went to the MLB Fan Cave in Manhattan to meet and interview Wakefield and Dickey. We also met Niekro. We talked to them about the film, their careers and what they are doing when they are not playing baseball. All three gave us pointers on the right way to throw a knuckleball.
RATING: 5 of 5