Blog

Dragon Hoops

Gene Luen Yang is a comic author and writer who has written award-winning graphic novels as well as for the most iconic comic book character Superman. In Dragon Hoops (2020), Yang follows his local high school basketball team, telling their stories and comparing their athletic feats to those of the comic heroes who inspired him when he was young. Yang proves that it is the story of the hero that matters most, not the fancy cape or superpowers.

This is a great read for readers who enjoyed Ghost by Jason Reynolds, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, or Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson.

You can also read Dragon Hoops on Overdrive today. 


Maiden

This documentary tells the story of the first all-female crew to participate in the grueling Whitbread round-the-world yacht race in 1989.  Englishwoman Tracy Edwards skippers Maiden over nine months and 33,000 miles.  With tons of footage from the time, current recollections from most of the team's members, and interviews with the male-dominated media and other yachtsmen, Maiden (2018, PG) is an exciting view into the women's incredible journey.

The Miracle Season (2018) PG

miracleseasonBased on true story, The Miracle Season covers the 2011 Iowa City West High School women’s volleyball team and how they battled back from adversity after losing their team captain, vivacious and effervescent Caroline “Line” Found (Danika Yarosh) in an unfortunate accident.

Coach Kathy Bresnahan (Helen Hunt) tags senior Kelly Flieher (Erin Moriarty), who was Line’s best friend since childhood, with leading the team after the loss of Line. Flieher battles her own doubts about her abilities to step into Line’s shoes as a setter, and lead the team to a consecutive state title, which they had won the previous year.

William Hurt turns in a strong performance (one of the best of the movie), as Line’s father, Dr. Ernie Found. Kelly is like a daughter to him, and he and she turn to each other and draw strength from each other, he grieving the loss of his daughter and wife and she looking for support because she is taking Line’s place on the volleyball court.

Overall, this was a good, not great, sports movie. I can’t think of any movies that have been made with volleyball as the featured sport, so this film helps to fill that hole. Like most inspirational sports movies, this one tugs at the heartstrings, so if you get emotional do have a box of tissues ready. You are going to need them.

The Rookie (2002) G

Dennis Quaid portrays Jimmy Morris, The Rookie’s title character, who is a middle-aged high school coach, married with kids, and living in a small Texas town. His pro baseball aspirations have long been forgotten, and yet, he has this amazing pitch. Jimmy’s players take notice and challenge him to try out for the major leagues. Based on a true story, this is one of those movies that reminds us that strange and wonderful things happen in real life.

We’ve also got other baseball movies and sports documentaries.

 

Angels in the Outfield (1951)

angelsIn this baseball comedy, Guffy McGovern (Paul Douglas), the manager of a very awful Pittsburgh Pirates team, is foul mouthed, hated by his players, ridiculed by the fans, and regularly badmouthed by the Pirates radio announcer (Keenan Wynn). Newspaper reporter Jennifer Paige (Janet Leigh) is assigned to cover the Pirates and give a woman’s perspective on the team. When she initially tries to interview McGovern, he gives her a very impolite brushoff.

A short time later, an angel contacts McGovern, and tells him that someone has been praying for him and the Pirates. If McGovern can control his temper, the angel and some of his friends will help the Pirates win a few games. McGovern agrees and suddenly this heretofore awful Pirates team are playing great baseball.

Bridget White (Donna Corcoran), an orphan who is hoping to be adopted, has been praying for the Pirates. One day, the girls at the orphanage are brought to the ballpark by two nuns (played by longtime character actors Spring Byington and Ellen Corby). During the game, Bridget witnesses the angels helping the Pirates. Nobody else can see the angels. Paige writes a story about Bridget, which causes a lot of complications for all involved. But it also leads to lot of good things including an unlikely romance between McGovern and Paige.

Angels in the Outfield has a lot of laughs and a lot of heart, plus a few cameo appearances by Bing Crosby, baseball greats Ty Cobb and Joe DiMaggio, and famous songwriter Harry Ruby. It also has some stock footage showing old Comiskey Park.

This is my favorite baseball movie and I hope you enjoy it too. You can also peruse our list of other baseball films.

Slaying the Tiger: A Year Inside the Ropes on the New PGA Tour by Shane Ryan (2015)

slayingthetigerReporter Shane Ryan spends one year on the PGA tour and reports on the new breed of up-and-coming golfers. Slaying the Tiger is eye opening to anyone interested in the game of golf. What you see on TV is now what the players are really like. Many players have public relations staff who control the player’s image.

More importantly—what does it take to be a winner? What games do players play and does the rich junior player have the advantage? A must read for anyone who likes the game of golf and wants to know who the next Tiger will be.

Rush (2013) R

This exciting and thrilling movie follows self-destructive playboy British auto racer James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and serious Austrian auto racer Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl), competing in the 1970s to become the Formula 1 champion. There is intense rivalry between the two drivers, and the race scenes had me on the edge of my seat.

Rush is based on a true story and is directed by the renowned Ron Howard. Check out an interview with Lauda.

Other auto racing movies you might want to check out are Grand Prix and Le Mans.

 

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown (2013)

Daniel James Brown captures the essence not only of this story but also of the sport of crew—the physical strength of the rowers, the strategy of the coxswain, the design of the boat. The author’s eye for detail is reminiscent of the writing of Laura Hillenbrand.
The Boys in the Boat focuses on the life of Joe Rantz, who, like his teammates, grows up during the Depression and struggles just to survive. These eight young, powerful rowers guided by a brilliant coxswain rose from humble beginning to win the gold at the 1936 Olympics. You will be cheering them on all the way to the finish.

Spotlight: New Baseball Movies

We’re entering the dog days of summer and with that comes the mid-point of the season of America’s game. If the Cubs and Sox aren’t enough for you, here are two recent baseball films we loved.

Trouble with the Curve (2012) PG-13
Clint Eastwood movies are always good and this one is no exception.  In this heartwarming story, he is an aging baseball scout whose vision is starting to fail. Enter Amy Adams, his estranged daughter, to help her dad. Trouble with the Curve explores the very special relationship between fathers and daughters.

Moneyball (2011) PG-13Moneyball was a great movie which provided insight into the behind-the-scenes world of baseball. For the story behind the film, check out Michael Lewis’ Moneyball: the art of winning an unfair game.

For more baseball films, check the list on our website.

Friday Night Lights. Seasons 1-5 (2006-2011)

For five brief seasons, this emotionally rewarding television series gave us the trials and triumphs of high school football coach Eric Taylor. Set in a mid-sized town in Texas for which the high school football team’s success is everything, we get to know all the regulars, the coach’s high school guidance counselor wife, the head of the boosters, the football player stars and hopefuls, and the girls that date them. For many of these players, success on the football field means a scholarship and the hope for something more than life in Dixon, Texas.

One of my favorites is Tyra, who is from a family of women who live by finding a man to take care of them but who wants to go to college and make a change. Sweet Matt gets thrust into the role of QB1. Not the most talented athlete, he uses his brains to take his team to the state finals. And of course Tim Riggins, the bad boy we all had crushes on in high school, a well-intentioned and noble character from the wrong family. And Coach Taylor and his happy marriage to Tami hold the whole series together.

Enjoy all five seasons of Friday Night Lights.

Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick by Paul Dickson (2012)

Bill Veeck was at different times the owner of the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, and the Chicago White Sox (twice). Many people remember Bill Veeck as the baseball owner who brought Eddie Gaedel, a 3’7” tall man in as a pinch hitter in a baseball game between the St. Louis Browns and the Detroit Tigers in 1951, or as the White Sox owner responsible for Disco Demolition Night. Still others may remember him for the funny and outrageous but harmless promotions he conducted as owner of the Indians, Browns, and White Sox.

But he was much more than that.  He was a great humanitarian, an advocate of civil rights, a baseball fan's owner who cared about the fans, a player's owner who cared about his players, an employer who cared about his employees, an innovator who introduced many changes in the game, a patriot, a thinker, a listener, an avaricious reader and man who despite a severe physical handicap would never quit.

This is easily the best biography I have read in the last twenty years and maybe the best ever.  This book is especially for White Sox, Indians, and Browns fans. It's for Cub fans too, as Veeck and his father had a profound influence on the Cubs as well (the ivy on the walls, Harry Caray and the singing of  "Take out to the Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch and others.)  But it is also for any baseball fan and for anyone who appreciates the story of man who lived a truly remarkable life. Read Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick by Paul Dickson.

Strength Down the Middle: the story of the 1959 White Sox by Larry Kalas

Strength Down the Middle by Larry Kalas is the exciting story of the 1959 White Sox, the great players from the team, a game by game description of the season, some of the exciting events from that year outside of baseball, and a modest six month autobiography of a then eight-year-old boy living on the far southwest side of Chicago.

This book is, of course, primarily for White Sox fans but baseball fans in general should also enjoy it. People interested in Chicago history will find it enjoyable as well.

The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball by Daniel R. Levitt (2012)

This book is really for scholars of baseball, but does contain some interesting baseball history. For example: Cub fans, did you know that Wrigley Field was not built for the Cubs? It was built for a team called the ChiFeds in 1914. In 1915, the ChiFeds name was changed to the Chicago Whales. In 1913, many well-to-do men thought that baseball was a fine business and started their own Major League. This book is the story of the Federal League and makes for some very interesting reading

Improve your sports knowledge with The Battle that Forged Modern Baseball by Daniel Levitt.

The 5th Quarter (2009) PG

Based on a true story of the Abbate family, a young man leads his college football team to a winning season in memory of his youngest brother, who was killed in a tragic car accident. It’s a very touching movie; you may need to grab the box of tissues.

For more on the family behind the story, visit the Luke Abbate 5th Quarter Foundation website.

Find the movie The 5th Quarter at the library.

 

Moneyball (2011) PG-13

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, you’ll enjoy this true story of the Oakland Athletics and their general manager, Billy Beane (and check out the book by Michael Lewis). It’s the story of Beane (Brad Pitt) and the unorthodox methods he used to rebuild his team.

The film, which earned Academy Award nominations for Best Film, Best Actor (Pitt), and Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill), offers a heartwarming tale of determination, dedication, and love of the game.

Add your name to the waiting list in our catalog or join us on Friday, March 16 at 7pm for Movies & More as we begin our celebration of 2012 Academy Award-nominated movies with Moneyball. Fresh popcorn will be provided. Register at calendar.ippl.info. The series continues with The Help on Friday, April 20.