The Rookie is a 2002 film directed by John Lee Hancock, written by Mike Rich and featuring Dennis Quaid as real-life former pitcher Jim Morris who began his pitching career at the late age of 35 for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Morris, a high-school chemistry teacher and baseball coach when the movie opens, is a former Major League baseball prospect whose injuries sidelined him. In an effort to inspire his team to victory, Morris makes a bet stating he will try again to make it into the Majors if his team wins Regionals. So when they do just that, Morris has no choice but to keep his end of the bargain and pursue his dream. Along the way, Morris must come to terms with his past life and an non-supportive father who never appreciated his ambitions.
The film also stars Rachel Griffiths as Lorri Morris, Jay Hernandez as Joaquin "Wack" Campos and Brian Cox as Jim Morris Sr. It was released on March 29, 2002.
Not to be confused with the 1990 Clint Eastwood film of the same name.
This film provides examples of:
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Jim is played by Dennis Quaid in the film; looks a bit different in real life◊.
- Big Game: More than one actually, as this includes the High-School Regional Final and Morris' First Major League game.
- The Casey Effect: Played straight when the Owls win the district championship, since it comes down to their pitcher getting a strikeout in the bottom of the last inning. Averted at the end of the movie with Morris's major league debut, since he was only brought into the game because the Devil Rays were losing badly. This counts as an aversion rather than a subversion because the point of the second half of the movie wasn't to show Jim Morris being successful as a major league baseball pitcher, but simply achieving his lifelong dream of becoming one.
- Career-Ending Injury: After being initially drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers while in the minor leagues, Jim ends up tearing his shoulder. Eventually, he re-injures that shoulder again after making it to the major leagues.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Jim's father, Jim Sr., attempts to dissuade him from playing baseball ever since he was young. He eventually gets over it after watching him play with the Devil Rays towards the end of the film.
- Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who knows about baseball would know that Jim Morris does become a player for the Major League Baseball for two seasons.
- Historical Beauty Upgrade: Dennis Quaid as Morris.
- Opposing Sports Team: The team the Owls play against in the Regional Final, complete with jerkass power hitter.
- Real Person Cameo: Immediately after the scene where a smiling Morris tells Brooks "You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball.", there's a scene where Morris is pitching his third strikeout in a game for a Triple-A ball team. The real Jim Morris is the red-shirted home plate umpire.
- Redemption Quest: Morris' quest is to fulfill his life's dream and, perhaps subconsciously, win his father's support.
- So Proud of You: Jim Sr. admits how proud he is of his son after witnessing his son play against the Texas Rangers as an act of reconciliation.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Suprisingly averted, considering this is a Disney production. Jim Morris has said that the only part which absolutely did not happen was the bit with the radar sign.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Much of Morris' lack of self-motivation comes from his father who never took an interest. He eventually succeeds in gaining Jim Sr.'s approval at the end of the film.