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Theatre: Damn Yankees
"So what the heck's the use of cryin'?
Why should we curse?
We've gotta get better
'Cause we can't get worse!"
— "Heart"

Damn Yankees is a 1955 musical written by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop, based on Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross (who also wrote The Pajama Game).

The plot is a retelling of the classic legend of Faust set in 1950s Washington, D.C. It begins with the forty-something Joe Boyd at home one evening, watching the Washington Senators lose to the Yankees on television while ignoring his wife Meg. When she eventually retires and he continues reflecting on the Senators, a mysterious gentleman suddenly appears to him, introducing himself as Applegate. Applegate offers Joe the fulfillment of his dreams, not only to have his favorite Senators win the pennant, but to lead them to the championship himself. Joe is a real-estate man, and knows a deal when he sees one. After leaving a note for his wife, he leaves his house suddenly twenty years younger.

The Washington Senators are still cursing their losing streak when Applegate introduces them to his young protegé Joe Hardy, and persuades them to let him practice. They are astounded by his batting and fielding power. Their manager, Mr. Van Buren, remains mystified about his background, but signs him up anyway. He is dubbed "Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo." by reporter Gloria Thorpe, and his fame and career seem assured.

Not content with being a successful baseball player, Joe grows homesick and decides to rents a room at his own house. This infuriates Applegate, who absolutely distrusts domesticity and calls in his top home-wrecker, Lola, to seduce Joe with what she calls "the standard vampire treatment." But Joe prefers the company of his wife, who hardly recognizes him as her lost husband.

Applegate plots to spoil Joe's career by scandal, and spreads through Gloria a rumor that "Joe Hardy," whom nobody in Hannibal seems to know, might actually be a Mexican League player who took a bribe to throw a game. The Commissioner calls for a hearing, and a celebration being held in Joe's honor is interrupted. Joe will be unable to play until he clears himself.

As the hearings drag on through the second-to-last day of the season, Joe almost comes to exercising his escape clause and thereby redeeming his soul, when Meg and her friends rush into court and testify that they knew Joe Hardy as a boy in his hometown. Lola, having fallen out of Applegate's favor, comforts the vindicated but dejected Joe, and confides to him that she's as much of a lost soul as he is now.

The next day, Washington is leading New York four to three. Applegate, more determined than ever to make Joe lose, uses his powers to turn Joe back into his old self while he is racing to catch a ball in the outfield. Joe miraculously manages to catch the ball, securing victory for the Senators, but as the champions celebrate, Joe Hardy is nowhere to be found. He is, of course, Joe Boyd once again, and free to return to his wife's lonely arms. As Joe and Meg embrace and sing, Applegate appears again, promising him forgiveness and offers him a second chance to be a baseball hero, but his pleas fall on deaf ears.

A 1958 film version, starring Tab Hunter, was produced by Warner Bros.. It varies slightly from the original plot but kept original choreographer Bob Fosse and most of the original cast, including Gwen Verdon as Lola, Ray Walston as Applegate and Shannon Bolin as Meg.

Includes examples of:

Daddy-OFilms of the 1950sEarth vs. The Spider
Bull DurhamSports StoriesField of Dreams
Creating Rem LezarThe MusicalDancer in the Dark

alternative title(s): Damn Yankees
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