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LIGHTS, CAMERA, CRUCIBLES 3: The Natural #124

Warwick Fairfax

July 26, 2022

The life we learn with … and the life we live with after that. Those words come from THE NATURAL, the film we discuss on this week’s episode of our summer series LIGHTS, CAMERA, CRUCIBLES: What Our Favorite Movie Heroes Can Teach Us About Overcoming Setbacks and Failure. It’s hard to think of a better way to express the truths we try to share each week on this show: offering hope and practical action steps to learn the lessons of your crucibles in order to chart a course to a life of significance.

Highlights

  • The roots of Warwick’s love of THE NATURAL (3:18)
  • Why Roy Hobbs qualifies as a hero (4:39)
  • Thinking back to better times (7:13)
  • The dangers of relying on natural talent (10:15)
  • Making Wonderboy (13:06)
  • Roy’s teenage moment in the sun … and the crucible that follows (16:13)
  • The signs he missed about Harriet Byrd (20:39)
  • Sixteen years later, Roy finally gets his shot (25:59)
  • Setting the league on fire (28:24)
  • Roy’s romantic distraction, and the crucibles it causes (33:48)
  • Learning the lesson of our crucibles is not a one-and-done proposition (35:10)
  • Roy’s “white angel” who gets him back on track (41:21)
  • The final crucibles, and how Iris helps him overcome them (46:56)
  • Roy’s triumphant moment (54:46)
  • Roy Hobbs’ ultimate life of significance (1:03:09)
  • Reflecting on the episode (1:08:42)

Transcript

Warwick Fairfax:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

 

Iris Gaines:

You’re so good now.

 

Roy Hobbs:

I could have been better. I could have broke every record in the book.

 

Iris Gaines:

And then?

 

Roy Hobbs:

And then, when I walked down the street, people would’ve looked and they would’ve said, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was in this game.”

 

Iris Gaines:

Now I believe we have two lives.

 

Roy Hobbs:

What do you mean?

 

Iris Gaines:

Life we learn with and the life we live with after that.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The life we learn with and the life we live with after that. It’s hard to think of a better way to express the truths we try to share each week on this show, offering hope and practical action steps to learn the lessons of your crucibles in order to chart a course to a life of significance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show. That clip you just heard is from The Natural, the 1984 movie that Warwick and I discuss this week on episode three of our special summer series, Lights, Camera, Crucibles, what our favorite movie heroes can teach us about overcoming setbacks and failure.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

It’s one of the best baseball movies ever made, but that’s just one reason we’re dropping this episode on the day of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. We’re covering it in this series because it’s a rousing story of the redemption of its hero, the other worldly, talented ballplayer, Roy Hobbs, and how he learns that talent alone is insufficient if we want to live lives on purpose dedicated to serving others.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

For that, we need to sharpen our character, as well as our skills, and surround ourselves with those who believe in us and challenge us on our journey to making our vision a reality no matter how long it might take.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We are in the midst of a summer series that we’re doing called, Lights, Camera, Crucibles, what your favorite movie heroes can teach you about overcoming setback and failure. And this week after the first two weeks, we talked about Captain America, week one. We talked about Batman, week two, from Marvel to DC. Now we’re moving out of superheroes all together.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Well, no, at least costume superheroes. Perhaps, uniformed superheroes this time. We’re going to talk about the 1984 film, The Natural, starring Robert Redford as the quintessential unbelievable baseball player who is Roy Hobbs.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We’ve already talked a little bit, Warwick, before we hit record here about some of the things that we want to talk about. I mean, this is a movie we both love a lot. You’ve loved this movie for quite a bit of time I believe, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. It’s funny as you say, this came out in 1984. I was living in New York City at the time. It’s in my Chase Man Bank days before I went to Harvard Business School three years before I did my own takeover, if you will, $2B plus of Fairfax Media.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, I’ve always loved stories and movies about redemption. And this is a movie all about redemption. So, little did I know how much need I’d have of redemption in 1984. We’ll talk about foreshadowing. This foreshadowed some redemption I would dearly need after my failed take over. But this was three years before it happened.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, I loved the movie when I saw it in New York City. And it’s been one of my all-time favorite movies ever since, because of just this sense of redemption that Roy Hobbs goes through.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And I am indeed wearing Roy Hobbs’s jersey. And while I’m righthanded, not lefthanded, I did indeed bring a baseball and a glove to our recording because of course you do. I have a New York Knights hat and a New York Knights jersey. There, so as you can see is the lightning bolt, which we’ll talk more about. We’ll talk more about all of this, listener. Just in case anybody wants to play catch while we’re doing this show, I’ve got a glove right here where we can do that.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So, talking about The Natural, let’s level set this for listeners, Warwick. It’s the story I said earlier of the man who wore this jersey, number nine on the back, Roy Hobbs. And Roy Hobbs is a lot of things.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But for the purposes of starting our discussion, we’ll say that Roy Hobbs is a man who makes some poor choices sometimes, has some really difficult, challenging, almost certainly life-threatening things happened to him. He struggles as a young man with confidence and maybe some holes in his character.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But the overarching theme why we’re talking about Roy Hobbs on this series, Lights, Camera, Crucibles, about how you can learn lessons from movie heroes to overcome your own crucibles is because Roy Hobbs is someone who becomes a hero, who gets included in this summer series because he learns the lessons of his setbacks and his failures, and even those stumbles and missteps that he took. That’s a pretty fair, big picture assessment of who we’re talking about today, isn’t it?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. I mean, Roy Hobbs, as many of us do as a teenager, makes some poor choices that have as we’ll see life-altering consequences. And he does learn the lessons. One of the hardest things as we’ll see that he has to overcome is he is unsparing of himself. He just crucifies himself for the mistakes he made.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And there are many of us out there, myself included with my own crucible in which I was as hard on myself in the mistakes I made as anybody. And so, for many of us, the mistake is one thing, owning up to it is one thing, but forgiving yourself and moving beyond your mistakes, it’s for many of us just forgiving yourself at just mind numbing what we believe is horrendously stupid, poor decisions, it’s tough.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

That’s almost one of the toughest frontiers for many of us is even if others will forgive us, and not everybody will, forgiving ourselves, my gosh, that’s so hard. And if you don’t do that, you don’t move on, the life significance won’t happen. So, that’s one of the key beats of the story of Roy Hobbs as we’ll see.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

When you watch the movie, The Natural, that’s the first picture we get of Roy Hobbs, right? We first see him and he is at a train station and he’s got a thousand-yard stare in his eyes. He’s very quiet of both body and face. He looks weary by life. It’s clear that this is a man who knows his way around crucibles. This is a man who’s not had an easy life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We don’t know what those crucibles were. We don’t know what caused them, but we know that he’s a man who’s heavy-laden. That look, that sense that Roy Hobbs has lived a difficult existence up until the point we meet him as viewers continues when he’s on the train. We don’t know where he is going, but we know he’s going there with a heavy heart in many ways.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But he does what a lot of us do. And this is our first inkling into who Roy Hobbs really is is he does what a lot of us do when we’re feeling a little weary, when we’re feeling heavy-hearted, when we’re feeling lost or depressed, or looking for direction.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Roy Hobbs on that train begins to dream of the things that he loves. And what he loves, where his mind takes him back to, is his love of baseball. And the first time we see Roy as a young boy that he thinks back on, he’s playing baseball with his dad on the family farm. Not only is he having a good time doing it, but based on what we see, Roy’s a pretty good baseball player.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Roy’s someone who… the name of the film is The Natural because Roy appears to have some pretty great natural talent. And he exhibits that while his dad paints a strike zone on the fence of the family farm and Roy pitches it and he blows a hole in the fence. That’s a kid who’s got a pretty good fastball, isn’t it?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. There are some young people that, whether it’s baseball, football, whatever the sport is, tennis, they could almost play anything they want to and they’re fantastic. I remember Bo Jackson as some will remember was a standout baseball player.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Many top athletes, they go play golf and they’re a two or three handicap max. And golf’s not their main sport, but they’re just so gifted. Roy Hobbs was one of those people, one of those kids that had, you would almost say, this God-given talent. It was off the charts.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And what’s interesting about that, and it’s a great segue into one of the first crucible leadership moments that comes out of this movie, that a spotlight is really shown on a lot of key principles of crucible leadership in the movie, The Natural. But the first one comes right after Roy breaks that fence with his fastball.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

His dad who is playing with him and also coaching him says to him, “You’ve got a gift, Roy, but it’s not enough. You’ve got to develop it. You rely too much on your own gift and you’ll fail.” And the truth of that, right, is something that we talk about on Crucible Leadership all the time and Beyond the Crucible all the time.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Our roads back from crucibles and our roads to lives of significance require our gifts and talents for sure, but they also require lifelong learning in the areas where we want to have that impact and in our own character and authenticity. That’s what Roy Hobbs’s dad is trying to tell him, “You can’t just rely on your natural gifts. You have to develop them.” And as we say in Beyond the Crucible, you have to learn from the experiences that life hands you. Fair?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. I’m reminded. It just came to mind. There’s this saying in Greek mythology, there’s Greek Gods, Zeus, Athena, all those. They would say something like, “Who the gods would bring down, they would first favor.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Basically, the notion is it’s really hard when you’re incredibly gifted. And life is easy at least in the sense for Roy. He’s so good at baseball. It’s like how can he miss? Everybody talks about the sure thing, right? He’s got this.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But very often you’ll see in sports, people that are so talented as teenagers, they never really make it later on in whatever the sport is because they don’t have the grit, the resilience, the determination because it’s all so easy. And there are other athletes who don’t have as much raw talent, but they have the determination, the grit, the staying power.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Sometimes great gifts can be a curse at such a young age. It feels like you don’t have to work for it. Hitting a homerun, that’s easy. Hitting a fastball or throwing a fastball for a strike that nobody can hit, that’s not a tough thing. So, sometimes having great gifts can be a crucible because you take it for granted and you don’t do what Roy’s dad says. You don’t develop it.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

The sad thing is sometimes it takes some hard knocks to fully understand I guess how profound that comment that Roy’s dad said. I don’t think Roy understood what his dad was saying. Sadly, he would understand it in the years to come.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And he understands it a little bit a lot in the next scene in the film. After playing catch with his boy, Mr. Hobbs has a heart attack on the family farm and dies, as Roy watches him die. Roy has actually very sweet scene. Roy is laying on his dad’s chest while his dad passes away. And that’s his first real crucible that we see.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Here’s this kid who has all the talent in the world it looks like, who is probably dreaming, as young boys do if they’re good at sports, of a career doing that. And then, the one person who could make sure he followed that advice to not rest on his laurels, to not just camp on his talent, but to develop that talent, is gone. Roy loses his rudder in that moment. And it doesn’t take long for him to veer off course we learn pretty quickly after that.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Interesting scene happens before we get to see Roy struggling in the early days of his young life when he’s a teenager in early twenties, lightning. There’s a storm the night his dad dies. And lightning strikes this big tree on the family farm. Roy’s looking at his window. He watches the tree go down when the lightning hits it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He salvages some wood from that tree and he makes a baseball bat from it. He burns with one of those wood burners. He burns the word Wonderboy on it. We wonder, is that a nickname that he’s gotten from being such a good baseball player because he’s growing up as a young boy? But Roy burns Wonderboy on that bat. And he puts a lightning bolt in it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

There’s another crucible leadership I think, Warwick, in that is that when something is destroyed like the family tree was, something beautiful and special and helpful to our journey forward can be built from it if we put in the work. I don’t think young Roy Hobbs, 10-year-old, 12-year-old Roy Hobbs understands that when he is doing it, but I think he comes to understand that as time goes on.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He takes that tree that is knocked down. That was devastating because the tree probably meant something to him the way that he reacts when it goes down. He takes what was broken and he makes something of it that’s not only beautiful that he comes to treasure, but ends up helping him on his journey to a life of significance.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely, Gary. I mean, this is really another example of some foreshadowing of Roy is going to go through some really tough trials, I don’t want to say worse, but in some sense, even almost worse than losing his dad. But out of just some of the devastation and the pain, something beautiful can happen in a sense if we allow.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

You’re very smart to bring that up just the way his whole bat, Wonderboy, is created. Out of pain can come purpose, can come redemption, and that was to happen in Roy Hobbs’s life. So, it’s really an early foreshadowing of using pain for a purpose that would come about.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. And we’ll talk more about it. One of the things I loved about this movie, even before we decided today or in 2022 that we’re going to do a podcast series on it, I’ve loved it since it first came out because there’s a lot of really great moving foreshadowing. And that’s exactly one of those moments that you talk about.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So, the movie then flashes forward a few years and a teenage Roy. And you have to suspend disbelief a little bit sometimes in hero movies because Robert Redford was in his forties and he’s playing a teenager. So, they shoot him through a lot of fuzzy lenses, right? But you have to believe that’s the case that 40 something year old Robert Redford’s a teenager in these scenes, 18, 19, something like that.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And he’s kept playing baseball through the years because he’s about to go to Chicago for a tryout with of course the greatest team in the history of baseball, the Chicago Cubs. As a family of Chicago Cubs, there’s my Cubs wristwatch right there.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So, he’s got to be good if a pro team wants to take a look at him. And he meets before he heads off on the train that night with the girl next door. She’s the proverbial girl next door in movies like this. And he tells her, “I’ve got to reach for the best that is in me.” That’s what he says to Iris, this girl next door whom he loves.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He’s trying to live up to dad’s exhortation, right? “I’ve got to reach for the best that’s in me as I head off on this journey.” He and Iris then share… they sleep together. She’s his girl and he’s going off. And what we come to learn pretty quickly, he’s going off with perhaps a little naivety, certainly with not a lot of experience. And some things happen to him on that train trip that will forever alter his life, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, absolutely. You’ve got this young Roy Hobbs, 18, 19. He’s could be one of the greatest pitchers in baseball. And it’s ironic that he meets… I think you mentioned The Whammer, this Babe Ruth figure who started off as a pitcher and became a hitter. Another bit of foreshadowing of Roy Hobbs. But it seems like he’s got the world before him. And what could go wrong? It’s an eerie time as he’s heading on that train to Chicago.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. As you said, I hadn’t mentioned it yet, but you’ve introduced The Whammer. The Whammer is Babe Ruth, right? They can’t use Babe Ruth’s name in the movie I guess, so they call him The Whammer. And he is the Major League Baseball’s homerun king. And he’s obviously modeled after Babe Ruth. This scene right now takes place in the early 1920s. And Babe Ruth was already by that time known as The Sultan of Swat in Major League Baseball.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So, Roy’s got an agent, this kindly old man who’s accompanying him on the train. And they meet up not only with The Whammer, but also with a sports writer named Max Mercy, deliciously, devilishly played by Robert Duvall who’s one of my favorite actors.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

There’s some jawwing going back and forth between Max Mercy and Roy’s agent. And basically, his agent who doesn’t really have a lot of money bets Max Mercy 10 bucks that Roy Hobbs, this kid on the train, can strike out The Whammer on just three pitches. Well, that seems like an easy bet for someone like Max Mercy when you’re talking about a guy who’s Babe Ruth, right? That superhuman feats in the sport of baseball.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Just three pitches. If one of them goes outside the strike zone, bets off, you lose, agent. If The Whammer fouls one off on the third pitch that’s over to anything that’s not a strike ends the bet. Three pitched balls. So, they gather to do this. The train has a water stop. They gather. They’re there.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And it’s a wonderful scene, which Roy is pitching to The Whammer. And it shows, on those three pitches, the first one gets Max Mercy to back up. He’s the umpire. He’s like, “Whoa, okay, this kid could be wild.” He’s like, “Can’t believe how fast he throws.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The Whammer swings and misses at the second pitch after the first one is really fast and surprises everybody. And then, the third pitch comes and The Whammer swings and misses that. Roy Hobbs strikes out the greatest player in baseball.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And something interesting happens at that moment speaking about foreshadowing. There’s a woman on the train. Her name’s Harriet Bird. We don’t know really anything about her, except she’s pretty in a big city way. Roy’s a boy from the farms of Iowa.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The Whammer is trying to impress her with his rings and all his talent. And so, she’s walking around with him. And we don’t really know why, except she’s attracted to the power and the prestige that’s in him is what we think. But when that pitch…

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Two things happen when that third strike comes. The director, Barry Levinson, does a great job of filming Robert Redford as Roy Hobbs throwing the pitch in slow motion. And behind him, the sun is setting, right? I don’t think that’s an accident. I think that’s the director’s way of saying, “Even at this moment where it should be the start of this ascension into baseball stardom, the sun’s setting on Roy Hobbs in some way.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And the next thing that we see too is Harriet Bird, this beautiful somewhat mysterious woman, she’s watching The Whammer. She’s been all impressed with The Whammer. All of a sudden, Roy strikes the Whammer out and we watched her gaze go from hitter to pitcher. Her eyes are on Roy.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And speaking of foreshadowing, what ends up happening to Roy? He meets with her in the dining car even though he has a girl back home. He’s young. He’s intrigued by this sophisticated woman. He meets her in her hotel room. Something happens to him when he’s there that changes his life forever.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

He walks up into the room and she says to him, “Roy, who has said all along, ‘I’m going to be the…'” Even at 18, 19 years old believes he’s going to be the best whoever played the game. People will look at him and say, “There goes Roy Hobbs, the best who ever played this game. He’s got that talent.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And she asks him, wearing a veil, strange as she’s outside her room, “Are you going to be the best who ever played the game, Roy?” And he says, “Yes.” And then, she pulls out a gun, or she has a gun. She pulls up the gun, fires and shoots him in the stomach area.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And then, later after that, they cut to the window of her floor in the hotel room. And the wind’s blowing in, clearly indicating that she jumped out of the window. That’s a shocking scene to see, but there was some foreshadowing on the train that indicates what Harriet Bird might have been up to, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I think there’s some conversation with some folks on the train basically about, there are a couple other folks that were killed, maybe a boxer, football player. She’s turns out that she’s this serial killer psychopath that looks for athletes to kill.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Now, Roy wasn’t to know that, but if you have eyes to see, she looked like trouble. She had that dark quality. She’s almost like the dark angel. And we’ll see there’s an angel of light later on, but they both say similar things, which is eerie in one sense.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

They have a conversation about, “Are you going to be the best there is?” And he says, “Yes.” And Harriet says, “Is that all there is, being the best in baseball? Is that all there is?” And Roy is non-plussed and says, “Well, what else is there?” And she almost laughs at him at a condescending way and says, “Don’t you know?”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She views him as this priceless, naive young kid when he says, “Can I see you?” And she said, “Oh, you’re precious.” She’s really messed up. But in some ways in her own, screwed up psychopathic way, she finds him endearing.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I mean, she’s like a spider. He was drawn right into the web by his naivety, useful arrogance, exuberance, and maybe his moral foundations of letting his girl, Iris, down, or not fully moored and he gets sucked right into the psychopath and pays a terrible price.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that terrible price, again, he doesn’t die because the next thing we see is on the screen that says, “Sixteen years later.” and we flash forward in Roy Hobbs’s life. And 16 years later, he shows up at the park of the New York Knights who are, at the moment we meet them, the worst team in Major League Baseball, certainly in the national league of Major League Baseball.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Roy comes there. We come to learn pretty quickly, he’s not a pitcher anymore. We don’t know exactly why, but we’re left. It’s pretty obvious assumption that being shot in the stomach took away his ability to throw fastballs the way he could throw. But he’s a hitter now. And he was playing semi-pro ball.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

One of the Knights scouts signed him. And that should be the start, right? That should be the start however delayed of his dreams coming true, but it turns it into another crucible for Roy. The manager of that club, Pop Fisher, great baseball name by the way. Pop Fisher. Come on, couldn’t have been better.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Pop Fisher refuses to play him. He won’t even let him take batting practice even though the Knights are truly terrible and could… I mean, it’s not going to make them worse. They need a shot in the arm. We come to learn that there’re complex forces going on to make the Knights lose.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The Judge, that’s all we know him by is the Judge, he’s the partner that Pop, the manager, had to take on in ownership. Pop has owned also has owned the club. He had to take him on as a partner. And the Judge will get the team all to himself if the Knights fail to win the pennant.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So, Pop thinks signing an old rookie like Hobbs. And Hobbs is supposed to be in his mid to late thirties by this time, certainly older than most rookies start playing baseball. Pop thinks this might be the Judge’s ploy to get the team to not win the pennant so that Pop loses the team and the Judge gets it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And then, there are other impediments to the Knights’ success that are slowly revealed in this section of the film, impediments to the Knights’ success. One is a gambler named Gus, played again with just a joyful malevolence by Darren McGavin, and his moll, Memo Paris played by Kim Bassinger.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Gus’s job is to weasel his way into getting the players to throw games, payoffs, date Memo, do things like that. They throw games. Her job is to distract the players from the goal at hand, which is winning baseball games. But then, something happens that opens the door for Roy to get on the field.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The Knights’ best player, Bump Bailey, who has been dating Memo and he’s been throwing games pretty clearly, he starts to pick it up because Pop threatens he’s going to play Hobbs if Bump doesn’t get better.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Bump starts playing better. He ends up dying in an on-field accident when he runs through the fence. And that leads to Roy finally getting on the field. And it allows him to start living his dream of being the best there ever was in this game. From the moment he gets in games, exciting things start happening, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I mean, it’s funny. There’s all sorts of twists and turns. We learn that the Judge tells their scout, “Make sure you find people that are hopeless that will guarantee the team will lose.” Because if the team loses, then he gets control of the whole team.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And so later on, when Roy starts doing well, he says, “What is the deal here? You were meant to find people that were guaranteed to help us lose.” “I found some has-been in the middle of nowhere in his mid to late thirties. I did my level best to do what you told me, Judge.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, sometimes in this case, the Judge’s own malevolence works against him. And Roy Hobbs gets a second chance when he shouldn’t have. Any sane person wouldn’t have given a second chance, but he got a second chance just because they wanted to guarantee the team lost. So, the joke’s on the Judge there.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But again, eerie foreshadowing with Bump Bailey. It seemed like whoever Memo gets involved with, whether it’s deliberately or not deliberately, they don’t do well. She’s like the kiss of death in terms of your ability to play well. So, happens to Bump Bailey, but obviously Roy doesn’t see that. But he gets his chance. And after a long time, 15, 16 years, he begins to play well. So, it does seem like life is finally on the up and up for Roy.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And playing well is an understatement. I mean, Roy is truly a revelation on the baseball field as a hitter. He’s quickly making the news reels. Remember this is 1939. That’s the season that this all happens now when Roy takes the field.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And kids love him. When he first gets in the game, right, one of the first things he does is he… you’ve heard the expression, “Knock the cover off the ball.” He knocks the cover off the ball, right? It starts raining and he knocks the cover off the ball. That is how great he is.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And I haven’t shared this with you before now, Warwick, because I want to see how you react to this. But in that montage scene where Roy has just taking it to Major League Baseball and just playing better than anyone has ever played before, there’s a scene of baseball cards rolling off a printing press.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And this is one of those cards. This was one of the prop cards that rolled down that was created for the movie. That’s Roy Hobbs right there. But there’s a back of the card. Now, the back of the card, like any baseball card on the back, it lists statistics and career achievements.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And here’s the statistics that Roy Hobbs puts together in 1939. He played 72 games. Remember, he comes in the middle of the season when the Knights are doing poorly. He has 307 at-bats, 171 hits, 42 doubles, 13 triples, 51 homeruns in 72 games, and 307 at-bats with 106 RBIs. His bat in average, .557.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Now, I did some number crunching here. The greatest players in baseball history, the most prolific homerun hitters in real-life Major League Baseball history, Babe Ruth averaged in one season about 8 at bats for every homerun.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

What this computes to if he stepped to the plate 307 times and hit 51 homeruns, Roy Hobbs hit a homerun every six times he came to the plate. He is better than anybody. Truly, he is the best who ever played the game. This covers everything about Roy’s career. It’s fascinating that they actually put numbers to that. And that’s who he is. I mean, what’s your reaction to that? Batting .557 and hits a homerun every six times he came to the plate?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I mean, you would know better than I, but has anybody else ever batted 557 in the season?

 

Gary Schneeberger:

No.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Again, you know baseball more than I do, but the guy, the Boston Red Sox-

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Ed Williams?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah. Well, he was 400 and you think, “Oh, you’re 400. You’re incredible, but it’s very, very few.” I mean, if that season was representative, he truly would’ve been the best there ever was. Nobody would touch that. That’s an incredible card. And those statistics just paint the picture of The Natural. He was the best there ever was.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But then, some things happened in the film that indicate that perhaps Roy hasn’t completely learned the lesson of his crucible. He begins dating Memo, the gambler’s sidekick who helps him get players to throw games or to get distracted.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And in doing that, he begins to go into a very bad slump. We hearken back, I think back, Warwick, in this case to what his dad said to him when he was young, “Talent’s not enough. You have to work at it. You have to make it. You have to build on it. You have to continue to get better. Talent isn’t enough. Natural talent isn’t enough.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And I think it’s a key crucible leadership principle what we see here when Roy begins dating Memo, gets distracted and begins to slump and the team starts to lose again. And that’s this, don’t lose sight of your mission. Don’t allow distractions to cause you to drift from it or it can feed more crucibles.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Roy Hobbs has stopped living his life on purpose when he begins to date Memo. He’s living it distracted. And it takes success and the potential for significance away from him at least for a time.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

That’s a pretty good analysis of what happens in that section of the movie where he’s caught up again with the flashy beautiful woman. It’s mission drift in some sense, right? It pulls him away from his single-minded desire over those 16 years and the years before that when he was a kid to be the best there ever was.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s so true, Gary. In a sense, he has the crucible of success up until the time that he starts dating Memo. You quoted the stats of the amount of homeruns he’s going to hit in the season over 50 and batting average over 500.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

The problem is when you have that kind of success… and I’m sure the papers were saying, “Where’s this guy come from? He’s incredible. He’s better than anybody.” You’ve got all these kids wanting him to sign his autograph, baseball cards.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s hard to withstand that level of adulation and success that Roy Hobbs had at that point in the season and before he started dating Memo. So then, success begins to erode your judgment. And in a sense, Memo is maybe not a foreshadowing, but the reverse of what Harriet Bird was who was the dark angel, if you will, an evil person. Anybody who’s a psychopath, run arounds killing people, to me is pretty close to the definition of evil.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Memo wasn’t quite at that level, but clearly her motives as somebody that was on the payroll of this gambler guy, Gus. And if she didn’t play ball, so to speak, the nice apartment, the money would all be gone. So, she pretty much did whatever he told her to do, “Distract Roy Hobbs. Get in a relationship with him.” “Okay, boss.” Off she goes. But she was in a sense a similar type, although not quite as bad, if you will, as Harriet Bird.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And so, your point is, why didn’t Roy see that? He would later on as we’ll get to, but he didn’t at this point. He got distracted, starts sleeping with her. And you have an eerie scene as they’re about to go up to her room in which he bumps into Pop Fisher, the manager of the Knights who happens to be Memo’s uncle. And he says, “Look, I love her, but don’t get messed up with her because bad things will happen.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

This is before he dated her. Before he slept with her or anything, Pop Fisher knew. “Look, I may love my niece, but she’s trouble. Stay away from trouble.” He’s not that young anymore, but he doesn’t listen to very wise advice. And so, he just walks into that crucible and bad things happen and his game suffers.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But you would think he would learn by now, stay clear of trouble, especially when you’ve been given a heads up, but he’s too headstrong and too caught up with success. He hasn’t learned the lessons from that crucible. He just can’t see it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. Pulling back from talking about movie heroes, that’s something that can affect any of us, right, the idea that… we use the phrase, “It’s not one-and-done.” a lot and it’s usually about forgiveness or about something like that. Learning the lesson and applying the lessons of your crucible is not one-and-done either. I mean, you can get it right 50 times. That doesn’t mean you’re going to get it right to 51st time.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And I think there’s a lesson for all of us, not in a baseball context, but in a life context that Roy Hobbs has blind spots and he chases some things that aren’t good for him. The allure of an attractive cosmopolitan woman proves too much to resist. All of us have the ability to fall back into patterns even if we’ve “conquered” them 50 times before or five times before. True? I mean, it’s never a one-and-done.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I think really what this illustrates is whether you’re an athlete, you’re good at finance, the arts, whatever your gifting is, you cannot see all of your self-esteem wrapped up in your gifting, which in a sense what was the biggest mistake of Roy Hobbs in a sense is, certainly one of the top ones, having his whole self-image wrapped up in his gifting.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Nothing wrong enjoying baseball or whatever you do, but he had his self-image wrapped up in that. As he was refining his craft of batting and before pitching, the aspect of his life that he was not crafting, he was not in the batting cage, if you will, of character. He wasn’t refining his character, his humility, his self-awareness.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

If he was trying to focus on his humility, his character, I think he may well have seen Memo coming. And people of character listen to good advice like Pop Fisher, his manager, but he didn’t. So, he was good in baseball, but his batting average in terms of his character, that wasn’t over 500. That may have been right less than 100. He was not working on it.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And because of his lack of ability to hone his character, his humility, his self-awareness, he went through in some case self-imposed crucibles, first one when he was a young kid. One could debate that. But Memo, she was trouble.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And it’s an interesting point to make. The movie’s called The Natural. And it’s true you can be a “natural” in some things in your life, and you can have blind spots and trip and fall, and hit crucibles in other aspects of your life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We’ve talked about being the GOAT. GOAT syndrome. You can be the GOAT in certain things. You can be the natural in certain things, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have blind spots in other areas of your life that can truly cause you some crucibles. And the key to overcoming that is to learn the lessons of those crucibles and apply them.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And here’s the good news about the movie, The Natural. Roy Hobbs learns the lessons of his crucible. It’s a key pivotal person and moment in doing that. You made reference earlier on, Warwick, to a white angel to compliment or counterbalance the dark angel that was Harriet, the woman who shot him. And that’s when his young love, Iris, reenters his life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

She does that when the Knights travel to where she lives in Chicago. And they begin to rekindle their relationship as a friendship. She says she has this son. Her son loves baseball and is a huge fan of Roy’s. She attends a game when he’s still going through his slump.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And he has two strikes on him. And when that happens, she stands up in the crowd. She’s got a big hat on and people are yelling at her to sit down because they can’t see. But again, there’s a setting sun behind her. She’s illuminated. And Roy senses something because he hits a game winning homerun. His slump ends right there.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Iris, his first love, stands up. He senses something is different. Something’s going on with two strikes on him. One of his 51 homeruns that year goes sailing out of the park and the Knights start another winning streak. That scene to me is one of the most beautiful scenes in the film. Back lit, she’s all lit up. Her white hat, it gives me tingles even to talk about it now. Pivotal scene though for sure.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely, Gary. I mean, if Harriet Bird was the angel of darkness, Iris was the angel of light. And because it’s a movie, imagery is so important. She’s wearing this beautiful white dress and white hat. And her hat is just glimmering in the sun. It is almost like a halo. I mean, she is meant to be not just his long-lost love, but just an angel of light.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

As again, we talked about Star Wars, the force versus darkness and the empire. When you turn towards the light, whatever that means for you and your belief system and philosophy, good things happen. You turn towards darkness, bad things like crucible happens. It sounds simplistic, but most major philosophies and religions, that is really a key part of civilization for thousands and thousands of years.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

There are the forces of good and the forces of evil. And your life is better when you turn to the forces of good. Sounds simplistic, but life is tough and you get tempted by success, fame, a lot of other things in life. And so, here’s a moment where this angel of light begins to come into his life and things get better. A lesson to be learned here.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And there’s a great crucible leadership principle when Roy asks her later why she stood up. Why at the game did she stand up when he had two strikes on him? And she says this to him, “I didn’t want to see you fail.” That is a critical crucible leadership truth.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We need the support of others who believe in us to help us move beyond our setbacks and failures. And that’s what reenters his life and sets him now on the path toward true significance.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

We talk a lot about surrounding himself with a team of fellow travelers. As many athletes do, you can surround yourself with an entourage. People will want to get some of the money, some of the gravy, some of the crumbs that fall off you. And maybe they’ll get a few thousand here or there, which if you’re making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars as top athletes do, they can throw out a few thousand like it’s a $1 bill.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And so, there are some out there that they only want to be around us for the fame and the success. As soon as that fame goes, they’re out of here. They’re gone. Those aren’t fellow travelers. Those aren’t the team you want to be. Those aren’t the teammates you want to have.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Iris is different. When she says she doesn’t want to see him fail, it’s not because oh, somehow, she’ll get more money or whatever. She believes in who he is. She loves him, believes in him. She wants the best for him, not because of anything that he can do for her. She wants to help him just out of the goodness and purity of her heart. Those are the kind of people you want to surround yourself with, the Irises of this world.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Too many of us surround ourselves with, be it male or female, the Harriets and Memos. It’s easy to say, “Oh, that’s not me.” Really? You’ve never had somebody in your life that maybe you made a poor choice, be it in high school or elsewhere, maybe a business partner? Many of us have made poor choices of who we surrounded ourselves with. Iris is the kind of person you do want to be on your team, you do want to have in your camp.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that relationship, having Iris back in his life, is critical to Roy’s moving past his crucibles that come as the movie begins its march to its climax. He’s hospitalized after Memo poisons him to keep him from leading the team to victory in the pennant.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

After Iris stands up, the team starts winning again. They’re on the precipice of winning the pennant. If they win the pennant, Pop Fisher gets the team all by himself and the Judge is out. So, Memo, undoubtedly under the auspices of Gus, poisons him.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And it ends up with Roy in the hospital for three days because the silver bullet that’s still inside him that he was shot with by Harriet is eroding away his stomach lining. The doctor tells him he’s got to quit playing baseball or his stomach could literally blow apart.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The Judge shows up in his hotel room with $20,000 in an envelope and offers it as a bribe to ensure that the team loses, to ensure Roy doesn’t go back and play. And then, another visit in the hospital.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And Warwick, this is the moment, a slice of that we played at the top of the show, a clip of Iris’s visit to the hospital, where they have this conversation where they talk about some really important and really meaningful things that helped Roy overcome both the crucibles of his past and the crucibles of his present.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

At one point we heard in the clip at the top of the show, he says, “Some mistakes, I guess we never stop paying for.” He is at the end of his resilience rope, but she refuses to let him stay there. She tells him, “I believe we have two lives, the life we learn with and the one we live with after that.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I’ve heard that line and I’ve watched the movie like 25 times in my life. When I heard that line as I was screening the film for this discussion, it struck me as, “That’s pure crucible leadership. That’s learn the lessons of your crucible and apply them. That’s it didn’t happen to you. It happened for you. That’s from our greatest pain comes our greatest purpose.”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

It’s as if Iris Lemon co-created Crucible Leadership with you by saying that line. It’s just so pivotal to everything we talk about on this show and in Crucible Leadership, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. I mean, it’s one of my… maybe it is my favorite scene in the movie. We all need people like Iris in our camp. I mean, here he is. He realizes the mistake he’s made. I think later on it will be even clearer about who Memo is. But I think at that point, he realizes the mistakes. And he’s just in just self-flagellation mode. Some mistakes, we never stop paying for.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

He says to her, “I didn’t see it coming.” In other words, Harriet Bird. “I should have.” He’s like, “I should have seen it. I should have seen it.” And maybe you should have, but when you’re young, sometimes you don’t see things when you’re young and naive and headstrong in your own success.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And Iris says, “But you were so young. It’s like you were young.” In other words, “Okay. Yes, you made a mistake, but you’ve got to forgive yourself. You’ve got to cut yourself some slack. You’ve got to move on.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And he’s just haunted by this idea that, “I could’ve been the best there ever was. I could’ve walked down my hometown and people would’ve said, ‘There goes Roy Hobbs, the best there ever was.’ I could have broken every record in the book.” And that’s when she talks about, “We have two lives, the life we learn with and life we live after that.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And she’s like, “Okay, you could have broken all these records. Well, so what?” I mean, she says it nicely. And then, she ends with really not even a drop, but a dollop of grace. Because I think he realizes at that point, “This season’s probably going to be it.” His stomach is not in good shape and they pull out silver bullets.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She says to him, “Think of all the young boys, all the young kids you’ve inspired. You are so successful now, and success in the sense of significance. Look at who you’ve inspired.” So, she’s trying to lift him up. “And so, don’t worry about being the best there ever was. Don’t worry about all the records you won’t maybe be able to achieve.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So, she really is his angel of light that’s really helping to produce some character formation. Roy has been batted. He needs a bit of grace and love and character formation to understand what life is about. It’s not about records and stats and homeruns. It’s about how you treat people. It’s your character. It’s living a life on purpose, dedicated serving others as we define a life of significance.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

She is really his muse, his advocate for what life is about and really a life of significance. It’s such a pivotal scene because she’s speaking really truth to him, really crucible leadership philosophy, if you will. It’s not about records. It’s about living your life in service to others. It’s a great scene. And that’s why we need people like Iris in our lives. They advocate and help us be the people that we always hoped and wished we would be at a heart of hearts.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And while in the past in this movie and earlier instances, Roy doesn’t quite grasp the lesson of a crucible or the advice of a loved one in the same way that he grasps baseball’s the same way that he hits fastballs.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

But in this case, in the very next scene, he grasps because he goes to the Judge’s office with that $20,000 that the Judge had given him to just lay in bed and not play the next day to ensure that the Knights would lose and not win the pennant. He shows up to the Judge’s office. He’s got the $20,000. He wants to give it back.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Memo is there. Gus is there. All the conspiracy folks who are out to end his efforts to win the pennant and to achieve significance, they’re all there. And that’s a pretty moving scene too, isn’t it?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It really is. And basically, Memo, I think I said earlier, if we want to have a relationship, you can’t play. If you play, we’re done. I mean, she is following orders from Gus and ultimately the Judge. And it’s like, “I’m playing. This may be my last game, but I’m playing. I don’t know if we’ll win or lose, but I’m going to give it my all.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Well, she can’t stand that. He is defying her. He’s defying the Judge and Gus. And so, she gets a gun out, fires it somewhere, fortunately not at him. He looks at her, takes the gun away from her and says in a moving sad, almost chilling note, “You’re right, Memo, we have met before.” And that really hearkens back.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

As we watched the movie, we know he is talking about Harriet Bird. Maybe Memo isn’t quite at that level of psychopathic serial killer, but she’s not a force for good in his life.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And at that point, maybe he’s learning the lesson from what Iris has told him a short time before and it crystallizes in his mind, “People like Memo, they’re not good for me. They bring me down. They erode my character. They do the opposite of helping me live a life of significance. They lead me down a path leading a dark life that hurts me and hurts others.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

All of that was crystallized I think in that scene, in that moment, when she shot the gun. At that point, he actually clearly did listen to Iris’s advice and was living it out. It’s a great scene.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And Roy of course does play, right? He does get out of bed. He does play. Spoiler alert, the Knights win the pennant. Pop wins sole control of the team. To be the hero, Roy must first have the inspiration Iris gives him by passing him a note while he’s on the bench that her son is his son too. He’s the father of her child. He also must survive.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And this is where the train speeds toward the conclusion of The Natural. He has to survive a whole bunch of last-minute crucibles. First one, Wonderboy is broken. He fouls a ball away and he breaks his bat, this bat that has fueled his record setting season. Probably to him… baseball players, sports athletes are very superstitious. And, “Oh my gosh, my bat that I made from a felled tree in my yard that was hit by lightning, it’s gone. What do I do?”

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Interesting side light, the bat is replaced by the very sweet and very shy and very quiet bat boy for the Knights named Bobby Savoy, who earlier in the movie, Roy teaches him how to make a bat. That was the first flash of the life of significance, Roy pouring into somebody.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Bobby Savoy makes this bat. So, he gives his bat, the Savoy Special, to Roy. So, that’s what Roy goes up to the plate with, with a strike on him. Then the Pittsburgh Pirates, who they’re playing for this one game playoff to get in the world series to win the pennant, they bring out…

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Basically, to win the game Roy’s got to beat his younger self, right? Because the guy that the Pirates bring up to pitch is a young farm boy, blonde-haired, lefthanded pitcher who throws the fastest ball in the league. It’s who Roy Hobbs was going to be if he hadn’t been shot by Harriet Bird. He’s got to defeat himself in a sense. He’s got to overcome his demons in a sense to get that victory.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And then, as if that’s not enough, with two strikes on him, his side starts bleeding from where the damage that the bullet caused. And it shows up on his jersey. Blood shows up on his jersey. I know there’s a point you wanted to make about when the blood does show up and how the catcher reacts Warwick.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Well, I mean, I think maybe the direction have been quite timed at… the visual was right, but at least at first, I thought it looked like the catchers thought that there was blood on his jersey and gives the signs and pitch it inside, which maybe would be harder to hit. But didn’t quite get the thinking of the scene right.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

But it would seem like for all the world, even if it was after the sign, the catcher’s thinking, “This guy’s done. I can see blood. There is no way this guy’s going to be able to hit anything.” But he was proven to be wrong.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Indeed. And the very next pitch that comes in, listener, Roy Hobbs hits a game-winning homerun that goes up into the light stanchions in the stadium, blows them up. And it’s like celebratory fireworks falling down on the field. It is one of the most rousing scenes in my motion picture history of the movies I like.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Just to give you an idea of what that moment’s like, we’re going to play just the audio on the audio version here of the podcast of what that sounded like. And you’ll recognize instantly the music of The Natural. And if you don’t feel a little tingle or want to stand up and applaud when you hear this, you should because I do. Here’s the ultimate moment from The Natural.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I need to stop here, Warwick, just to say one thing about my own youthful Natural moment. I haven’t told you this before. But I’m not older than 20 years old. I’m probably 19 or 20 years old. I’m playing city league softball in my hometown. It’s a night game and the lights are on.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Now, I hit a foul ball. It’s not even a fair ball. It’s not a homerun. I hit a foul ball that goes into the lights and they start to spark. I felt like Roy Hobbs. My teammates called me Roy for the rest of the game even though it was a foul ball.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I have no idea if the rest of that bat I made an out, I got a hit. I have no idea if I knocked in a run. I have no idea of anything. But my memory going on 35, 40 years since that moment, I still remember how it felt to hit that ball to have it hit that light array, and then for sparks to fly out. And immediately, everybody, there’s 11 people in the stands, and they’re all like, “Ooh.” I mean, I still feel a tingle about that moment because that is the deep impact.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

We talked about these crucible moments and how to extract crucible moments in this series, Lights, Camera, Crucibles. We’re pulling out principles that will help you overcome your own crucibles. But the reason that we’re doing it in movies is because let’s not forget, let’s not lose sight of the fact that movies move us. Movies stick with us.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that I share that experience not to say, “Hey, I hit a foul ball and I made the lights spark.” I say that to say that movie so moved me, that when I did something that was nowhere near what Roy Hobbs did, I guarantee I didn’t bat .557 that year, but just that foul ball and the lights coming out to be called Roy Hobbs and to have that moment still sticks with me.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. It’s like you had your Roy Hobbs moment. It’s like, “Okay, maybe I’m not Roy Hobbs, but for one at-bat, for one moment, maybe just a little bit, maybe I’m channeling a little bit of Roy Hobbs within me that sense of just that wonderful magical moment.”

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s a tremendous scene. And we’ll get to maybe the last scene after that here in a bit, but it was such a redemptive moment. It wasn’t just about himself. because as we said earlier, if the Knights were to win the pennant, then Pop Fisher would get to own the team and be able to buy out the Judge. If they lost, then it would be all the Judge’s team.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And Roy Hobbs knew that. He knew he wasn’t just playing for himself. He wanted to do whatever he could to help Pop Fisher own the team and get the frankly, evil Judge if you will out of the picture. So, it’s a wonderful moment. He’s beat up. It probably is going to be the last at-bat he’s ever going to have as far as we know.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And there is this sense of redemption, some grace. And in the stands after he hits the ball, you just see Iris and it’s just joyful tears of thanksgiving and pride. And she’s just so happy for Roy because she knows how much it means to him. She knows it’s probably going to be his last at-bat. She’s just filled with joy for him.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Again, we want people like Iris who, when we have our Roy Hobbs moments, which isn’t all the time, again would be just cheering us and just having tears in their eyes because they’re so happy for us. It’s a wonderful redemptive moment that wasn’t just about him. It was for his team. And especially, it was for Pop Fisher. And so, there was some lot of…

 

Warwick Fairfax:

At that point, I honestly believe, I don’t know that we fully know, that Roy Hobbs wasn’t doing it all for himself and the records, that there was a higher purpose behind that hit, if that makes sense.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Absolutely. And it’s funny Warwick, you said, it’s probably his last at-bat. We don’t know. We do know. Here’s that baseball card that I had and it has the narrative of Roy Hobbs’s career. And this is what it says about the moment that we just talked about.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So, he was badly hurt, but he famously hit the game-winning homerun in the ninth, a homerun that crashed into the lights, sending sparkles everywhere. This is what it says after that, “Roy Hobbs never played again.” So, we do know according to this card, the Knights without Hobbs were swept easily by the Yankees in the World Series.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Hobbs’s uniform, which he actually bled through, is on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame, as is his Wonderboy bat. Why that doesn’t make me sad when I read that they lost the world series is if… there’s an earlier scene in the movie where Pop’s like, “I don’t even care about the series. I just want to win the pennant.” Because by winning the pennant, Pop gets to keep the team all to himself and the Judge is out.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So, the fact that without Roy, they didn’t win a game. They lost all four games to the Yankees. I mean, boo the Yankees because I’m not a Yankees fan. But that still ends it on a great note. And here’s the last bit. Hobbs moved back to Sabotac Valley, that town in Iowa, and married Iris Lemon where they lived out their quiet lives.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

People who had seen him play insist that if he could have stayed healthy, Roy Hobbs would’ve been the greatest player in the history of the game. He was a natural. That last scene that you referred to, Warwick, is a scene that hearkens back to the beginning of the movie. There’s catch being played in a farm field and Roy’s playing catch again. But this time, Roy’s the dad who’s playing catch with his son.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And the camera cuts to… I mean, he’s smiling. His son is running through the field. He’s smiling. And they cut to Iris and she’s smiling. And that is the life of significance that Roy Hobbs didn’t realize was on the other side of the greatest of all time, the best there ever was in this game. The true life of significance is what he and Iris and their boy lived out over, we don’t know how many more years, but clearly, they lived it out and they were happy.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So well said. I mean, in a sense, the movie has come full circle. It started with Roy pitching to his beloved dad, and now he’s pitching to his son. And there’s nothing wrong with being successful in baseball, football, the arts, business, but true success is not about numbers, whether it’s RBIs, homeruns, money in the bank account, houses, whatever record it is.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

True success is often simpler. It’s defined by your character, how you treat people. It’s throwing catch to your kid. It’s being there at their dance recitals, at their baseball games. It’s family. It’s every bit as significant is just what you pour into your family. And I think Roy realized he loved baseball and that’s great, but you don’t want to be owned by records or owned by something.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

He realized with Iris’s help that much as he loved baseball, there was more to life than records, more to life even than baseball. We don’t know, but I think in some sense, he probably came to some sort of peace about life. It didn’t turn out the way that maybe he wanted it to or thought it could be, but he has his beloved Iris, his wife. He’s there with his son that he didn’t know he had.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And one thinks he probably had a pretty good life and he accepted what had happened. He learned from his crucibles and realized there’s more to life than numbers and records, and RBIs and homeruns. It’s those around you.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Life of significance is measured in ways that are not just about numbers. They’re measured in character and those that we love and give back to. So, it was just a beautiful scene at the end that really hearkens back to what a life of significance really is.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that, listener, is the time of the show. I’m not going to land a plane, come on. I’m going to catch the final out right there. Game’s over. As we do with every episode of this series, Lights, Camera, Crucibles, we want to leave you with a point of reflection about the movie that we’ve talked about today and the hero we’ve talked about today, The Natural and Roy Hobbs.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And what Warwick and I want to direct your attention is to Wonderboy, Roy’s bat. That was the bat he fashioned from a felled tree destroyed by lightning. Roy Hobbs was able to make something special and beautiful and helpful to his pursuit of a life of significance from something that was lost and destroyed.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So, ask yourself this, what are the potential Wonderboys in your life? Where can you create beauty from ashes? Be it something physical or something emotional. Where has the train gone off the tracks? And you can put it back and create something out of your pain with new purpose that helps you lead a life of significance and leave a legacy.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

What’s your Wonderboy? We’ll leave you with that question. And we’ll leave you with this. Again, it’s not homework. It’s, take some time if you want to be on track with us next week when we talk about the next hero in our series, and that is Robin Hood.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Now, we’re going to do it in a couple of ways. So, Warwick is a big fan. And so, initially, we were going to focus only on the Russell Crowe real Robin Hood story, but then Warrick said, “Let’s weave in some stuff from the Errol Flynn Robin Hood too.” So, we’re going to get both of those movies. So, Robin Hood is the next hero that we’re going to talk about on Lights, Camera, Crucibles.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And until that next time, listener. Remember, we know your crucibles are tough. Sometimes, they can be your fault. Sometimes, you can have a hand in them. Roy Hobbs certainly had a hand in some of his with some poor decisions he made. But even those crucibles are not the end of your story.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

There’s certainly not a reason to, as Warwick has said many times, stay in bed with the covers over your head to self-flagellation all the time. You can move beyond them. You can forgive yourself. You can forgive others. Others can forgive you.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

You can work your way through those things in the same way that Roy Hobbs worked through them with some good people who supported him and had his best interest at heart around him. And he moved beyond those crucibles, and he ended up in a life of significance. And that’s what can happen for you too.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Your crucible experiences can be the launching off point for the best story of your life. As difficult as they may be in the story you’re living right now, you can learn the lessons from them. You can catapult yourself to an ending that’s just like Roy Hobbs had an ending because it ends at, like it did for him, a life of significance.