The pint-sized son of a down-on-his-luck big-league baseball player is unexpectedly appointed manager of a struggling baseball team.
Despite the lighthearted promotional campaign mounted by 20th Century-Fox when the film was first released, THE KID FROM LEFT FIELD is not a comedy. The title character is young Christy Mathewson Cooper (Billy Chapin), the son of former big-league ballplayer Larry Cooper (Dan Dailey), who is now reduced to hawking peanuts at the ballpark. Securing a job as a batboy with a team called the Bisons, Christy amazes the players and management by giving them tips on how to win games. What no one knows is that Christy is passing along information provided by his father. Impressed by Christy's apparent expertise, third baseman Pete Haines (Lloyd Bridges) tells team secretary Marion Foley (Anne Bancroft) about the boy. She, in turn, tells Bisons owner Whacker (Ray Collins), a "Bill Veeck" type ever on the alert for a new publicity gimmick. Whacker promptly appoints the pint-sized Christy as manager of the team, replacing the ill-tempered Billy Lorant (a truly venomous performance by Richard Egan). Larry is about to spill the beans concerning Christy's baseball knowledgeability, but he decides not to, considering himself a burnt-out has-been. And that's all that can be revealed without giving away the ending. Its whimsical premise notwithstanding, KID FROM LEFT FIELD is treated as a straight drama, with several near-noir long shots of the shadow-drenched ballpark. The film was remade for television in 1978 as a vehicle for Gary Coleman.
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