Years ago, when I first read the book Moneyball, I had never been to a game at Rawhide Ballpark. So during the portions of the book in which events at the then home of the Visalia Oaks were depicted, I could only paint my own internal picture of what the scenes looked like. Years later, I found myself working for the team formerly known as the Oaks — now Rawhide — and could finally see with my own eyes, the actual locations that these events occurred: the home run that landed in the skate park behind the left-field wall and, of course, the infield on which Jeremy Brown — the Oakland A’s 240 pound catcher and 2001 first round pick — rounded the bases after hitting his now famous home run, the one he thought was nothing more than a double that needed to be legged out.
As depicted in the movie version of “Moneyball”, Brown hits a drive to center field that he believes will result in a double if he runs hard around first and into second. However, as he rounds first he slips, falls and scrambles desperately back to the first base bag. His first base coach along with players from the other team, excitedly motion to Brown to get up and head to second base. Brown is confused. He didn’t realize that the ball he had just struck landed 60 feet over the centerfield wall.
This season, the Rawhide have set a new promotion in motion, playing a postgame movie after select Friday home games. Last night was Moneyball Night, which included the postgame showing of the movie on a giant two-story inflatable movie screen. Though the majority of the movie has nothing to do with Visalia or it’s baseball team, there are a couple of scenes where Visalia gets a mention, including the scene in which the characters of Billy Beane and Peter Brand are viewing footage of the Jeremy Brown home run. One couldn’t help but feel a sense of time and place during that scene. After all, the event depicted in the movie actually happened on that very field roughly ten years ago.
With the movie screen set on the grass just beyond freshly dragged dirt behind first base, I had a unique view of both the movie and the exact area in which Brown slipped trying to leg out his perceived double turned home run. In a way, it was like watching two movies at once. One on the screen and one created by my imagination: imagining the flight path of the ball (it must have been a low line-drive, given Brown’s reaction), imagining Brown scrambling on the dirt, imagining him getting up and trotting around the bases with the opposing team reacting to the unique moment. What was the crowd like? How did his teammates razz him in the dugout?
How often can you watch a movie at the very sight of one of it’s scenes?