We watched “The Natural” the other night, for the umpteenth time. It never grows old. It is our fable.
At least the movie version is, with Roy Hobbs’s transcendent home run (“That’s how it feels, isn’t it, to come through like that in a game?” said Mary as the soaring music played and the sparks from the short-circuited stadium stanchions lit Roy’s way ’round the bases) and the father-and-son catch in the farm field in the golden light at the end.
That light. I love that light! The same golden light one sees now at the end of these summer days. How can anything untoward befall when one is bathed in it, as we were for a couple of magical hours the other night.
Magic, of course, is a big part of it, in the form of Roy’s handmade “Wonder Boy” bat, his Excalibur, which as a child he hewed from a mighty oak that had been cleaved by a lightning bolt.
Though blessed, he suffered, was (almost) buried, and rose again — to play ball, stigmata and all.
Then the moment, when all that was good, when all that was true, when all that was honorable, when all that was just, when all that was commendable triumphed, and fireworks went off. The Tempter disdained, the woman who loved him regained.
It is a beautiful story — certainly if you’ve ever played baseball — though, as I’ve said, at variance with the book at times, when the mythic and banal collide.
Anyway, “The Natural” lifts up our hearts, and for that we are thankful.
Play it again, Sam. Play it again.