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FADE IN:

EXT. YANKEE STADIUM - 1964 - DREAM

JAMIE O'CONNOR (12) is at bat, the YANKEE FIELDERS in position. WHITEY FORD hurls a streaker, whizzing close to the kid's head; the kid doesn't flinch. The UMP signals BALL.

IN THE PRESS BOX

An uncanny sight. The sportscaster is the middle-aged MISS HALL, a sturdy woman with an obvious fondness for tweeds. With the strike zone a slight smaller than usual, Ford can't seem to do a thing.

MISS HALL
You take 'em as you find 'em, Whitey.

ON THE FIELD

The next pitch. Scrotum high. So INSIDE it could steal octaves. Remarkably, the kid's still calm, collected.

MISS HALL (O.S.)
O'Connor may spell the beginning of
the end for the unstoppable Yanks.

Ford hurls another smoker. The kid swings and CRACK. The bat suffers a hairline fracture; the ball rockets to deep center, where Mantle arches. The ball flirts with his mitt.

MISS HALL (O.S.)(CONT'D.)
Mantle tracks it like a hound dog.
Is it going to be a snow cone catch?

The ball tips up and out his glove -

MISS HALL (O.S.) (CONT'D)
It's a homer! Bye, bye, baby!

FALLING INTO THE STANDS

The ball changes character, floating down like a balloon drained of helium and at the same time slowly turns into A BABY, A BOY, wrapped in a blue blanket.

A BEDLAM OF WOMEN vie for the baby. The sensual and angelic ELIZABETH O'CONNOR, wins out. As the baby boy finds ecstasy in her arms, WOMEN circle around Elizabeth.

ON THE FIELD

Jamie slows down at third and tears off her cap, unleashing long blonde curls. She's a girl! She waves -

INTO THE STANDS

At her parents, ELIZABETH and HOWARD O'CONNOR and the baby. Reminiscent of the Kennedys, Howard and Elizabeth are young, in love, with everything to look forward to. Elizabeth waves back Jamie as Howard beams a Camelot glow at his wife and baby.

ON THE FIELD

Jamie arrives home triumphantly and bows. The fans chant.

FANS
Ja-mie! Ja-mie!

Jamie starts to fade, her image flickering on and off. She disappears.

In the stands Jamie reappears. While Howard holds the baby, Elizabeth hugs Jamie. Their hair so much alike, it's hard to tell where one ends, the other begins.

Pull back to reveal Jamie's captive in the box seat, wearing white gloves, a pink jumper and patent leather shoes with white anklets. The only remnant of her baseball days - THE BAT.

END OF DREAM - DISSOLVE TO:

MALE VOICE (O.S.)
Jamie. Jamie? Jamie!

EXT. HOWARD'S TRACTOR LOT - DAY

The voice is Howard O'Connor's, calling across rows of tractors; strung over them, a banner, "HOWARD - DEPENDABLE OR NOT AT ALL," in smaller letters, "O'Connor, A Major League Player."

On top of a tractor, Jamie's alone, asleep, cradling the bat with a hairline fracture. Beside her, a transistor, the sportscaster softly barks out a Yankee game.

Jerking awake, Jamie sees Howard with MR. BUTLER and MRS. BUTLER, refugees from a Grant Wood painting.

HOWARD
Can't keep her away from the
tractors. Chip off the old
block, eh? (to Jamie)You'll
have to shove off. Customers.

Groggy and flustered, she grabs her stuff, dropping the radio; it cracks open on the cab floor. As she scoops it up, the bat gets stuck under the seat. Howard points to Jamie and the tractor.

HOWARD (CON'T.)
That baby's got all the latest
gismos. Sports 80 horsepower
and pulls a five-bottom plow.
Has it over your roto-tiller.

MR. BUTLER
Contraption's too complicated.

Jamie pulls her bat, conking the ignition key "on." Jamming it against the starter button, the engine turns over.

HOWARD (CON'T.)
See folks, startin' her up's
child's play, easy as A-B-C.

MR. BUTLER
The little woman could handle her!

The little woman scowls. Jamie fights to dislodge the bat, but accidentally releases the brake. The tractor's off. Jamie doesn't have the wheel in hand.

HOWARD
Take hold, Jamie! Take hold!

Jamie finally grabs the wheel. A near miss. She swerves clear of the fence enclosing a neighboring wheat field.

HOWARD (CON'T.)
The brake! Grab the brake!

Focused on the brake, which she can't reach because of her short legs, Jamie doesn't see she's headed for the Butlers, who lose their stoic manner as they bolt out of harm's way.

Jamie runs a slalom course while pumping the brake. The tractor jerks and lurches. Howard grabs onto the seat. He looks like a rodeo rider. Emergency brake in reach -

HOWARD
I got it!

Before he can pull the brake, the tractor jolts to a stop. Jamie's pushed the pedal! Howard tumbles into the cab.

MRS. BUTLER
Real fine, Mr. O'Connor,
but we ain't buying.(beat)
Take some advice from a
Christian woman - girls and
tractors don't mix. If you
know what's good for her,
you'll get her a petticoat.

As the Butlers exit, he calls after them -Howard Come back anytime.

Cross, Howard turns to Jamie.

HOWARD (CON'T.)
These farmers are a hard sell.
They got locusts, frosts and
floods to contend with. You know
how penny-pinching it makes them?

Jamie's eyes well up with tears. Her sorrow takes an immediate toll on him, siphoning off his anger and filling him with guilt.

HOWARD
Heck, I shouldn't be asking you
stuff like that. Get on home.
We'll straighten it out later.

MORE CUSTOMERS arrive; Howard jumps off the tractor to greet them. He calls back to Jamie --

HOWARD
Stay out of trouble, will ya?

Alone on the tractor, Jamie stares at the transistor guts.

EXT. DOWNTOWN STONEWALL - DAY

Jamie drags the bat as she trudges through Stonewall.

Like many midwestern towns, the town's divided by railroad tracks, on one side, a church complete with steeple, a clapboard library, park and gazebo; a few shops on the other.

A banner hangs across the library, "Today's Boys, Tomorrow's Heroes, Stonewall Little League, Sign up for Tryouts." A line of FIFTY BOYS and PARENTS snakes around the library. Jamie looks at it -- sadness fills her eyes.

EXT. JAMIE'S BACKYARD - DAY

JAMIE SWINGS BAT, parts air like a bulldozer parts dirt, but she can't connect.

PULL BACK - Jamie bats at air. Behind her, a rambling yard, lush with midwestern summer. A mature lilac hedge protects her lonely practice from prying eyes.

AT HER FEET sorting baseball cards, chewing gum obsessively and blowing bubbles so hard they crack -- WILBUR DETTINGER, (12). (Jamie calls him BUR.) In spite of the big noises, he's a runt; some might even call him, "delicate."

Jamie offers her bat; he offers her gum. She takes his offer; he refuses hers.

BUR
Don't need to practice to
find out that I'm no good.

He blows a bubble in her face. Jamie's fascinated and disgusted by the creepy pores of pink protoplasm which at first obscure everything and then retreat.

JAMIE
Give the bubbles a rest.

BUR
You're talking about my life's
work. I don't chew just to chew.
Every chew is a STUDY. Gotta know
my product t'be president of Bazooka.

JAMIE
Like to see you do it in a dress.

BUR
Save the lecture; I've heard it.
"Boys get everything and girls
can't even try out for Little League."

Bur gives birth to another huge bubble.

JAMIE'S POV - The beautiful and scary path of its growing folds strangely resemble a woman gestating.

Jamie can't watch the bubble burst.

JAMIE
You're so lucky and don't even
know it. I'd do anything to play.

Pissed, Jamie picks up a ball filthy with compost, tosses it and swats. The hit is a miracle of effortlessness, enchanted in flight. To follow its course, she puts on GLASSES, A BLACK PAIR.

BUR
Geez, Louise.

He points not to the ball but glasses.

BUR
Barely know you. When'd you get 'em?

She glowers as the ball sails behind a dense hedge, two houses over, into an enclosed, encapsulated world.

JAMIE
Crud, it landed at Priscilla's!

BUR
Not a place you'd want to drop in
without pumps and a party dress.

JAMIE
Let's get back to your lesson.

BUR
What for? I'll never get it.

JAMIE
I guess you don't care if you
end up on your dad's twerp list?

She's said the magic words. He grabs the bat in earnest. His swing's feminine, more like chopping than batting.

While Bur complains, she gives him an overhaul, grip first, then posture, tucking arms, cocking wrists, shifting shoulders and knees.

BUR
Thank god, it's my last season.
Never have to be humiliated at
try-outs again, never have to
not make the team again. This
time next year, I'll be too old.

Slowly, he gets a rhythm. For a few swings, his confidence rises. He smacks at the air, but the bat gets the better of him, flying into the hedge.

Ashamed, he runs. Jamie tracks after him, catches him, holds him around the waist from behind. In the struggle, Bur manages to grab her bat and angrily swings it.

BUR
Let go!

She holds on, safe behind him. This pisses him off more; he swings with added power.

BUR
Let go!

Furious. He swings again; it's everything she's taught him and more.

JAMIE
You can hit anything they give you.

Exhausted, he throws the bat on the grass.

BUR
Not with them watching,
not alone. You gotta come.

JAMIE
No way! Crummy old Little
League won't let girls play.

INT. JAMIE'S HOUSE - HOWARD'S BEDROOM - DAY

Howard looks stiff -- a buttoned-up personality, in a button-down shirt.

HOWARD
When I played ball for the Cubs,
we had a saying: You can take the
team out of the pennant, but you
can't take the player out of the
all-stars. The man, the individual,
always has a place. Now I only sell
tractors, but I see Stonewall needs
a new mayor, a man to watch over its
53,000 people. A man who can bring
it a new hospital. That man is me!

He makes a Three Stooges face.

HOWARD (CONT'D)
Who's kidding whom?

REVERSE ANGLE - He's not facing an audience but a mirror. He can't face himself. His eyes slip from mirror to closet, He fixes on the dress Elizabeth wore at Yankee stadium. He moves to the closet. He caresses the dress, inhales its fragrance and slams the closet door shut.

INT. DINING ROOM - DAY

A door flips open.

A split personality lives here, half pig, half anal retentive. With care, Howard selects a delicate china cup from a set of six.

INT. KITCHEN

Although this room also harbors a split personality, Howard finds peace, sipping coffee, holding his cup.

Apron draped over a tiger-striped low-cut shift, the voluptuous MRS. DIRKSON, (39), opens the oven and checks on a pot roast. She hums innocently "Love is a Many Splendoured Thing."

MRS. DIRKSON
Almost done.

Distracted, Howard doesn't notice a false eyelash fall into the pot or Mrs. D. fishing it out.

MRS. DIRKSON
Ed always used to say he'd die
for my pot roast. Funny, because he
ended up choking on a chicken bone.

Howard's oblivious. She freshens his coffee.

MRS. DIRKSON
For the growing boy.

He doesn't notice. His reverie's interrupted as Mrs. D. straightens the messy side of the kitchen.

HOWARD
I'd appreciate it if you
didn't clean around there.

Mrs. D. doesn't get it. Howard can't prefer the mess. She continues cleaning. He gets up and takes the sponge away.

HOWARD
Jamie likes to keep her
side of the house just so.

MRS. DIRKSON
You're too good to that girl.

A down-hearted Howard slumps back into his chair.

MRS. DIRKSON
Guess you can't be good enough
to a child whose mother is dead.

She puts her hand on his shoulder. He looks alarmed.

MRS. DIRKSON
You need a woman's touch.

The doorbell rings. Howard lurches up, happy to get away.

INT. HOWARD'S DINING ROOM - DAY

Adorned in a fetching muumuu, MRS. LIPINSKI (41), offers Howard a fetching wink along with a bundled platter.

MRS. LIPINSKI
Us parents without partners
have got to stick together.

She opens the foil. Before Howard can fake an "hmmmm, good" -

MRS. LIPINSKI
If I had made these more often --
maybe Jim wouldn't have strayed.

Mrs. D. comes in with her pot roast.

HOWARD
Ah, you know Mrs. Dirkson. She
won't be long, came to make sup-
per for Jamie. You gals have been
so helpful since Elizabeth died.

MRS. DIRKSON
Hope springs eternal in the
hearts of widows and divorcees.

As Mrs. D. speaks, Mrs. Lipinski unveils her platter. It's rumaki, bacon skewered with toothpicks and wrapped around chicken livers. Howard forces a smile of appreciation.

MRS. LIPINSKI
It was Jim's favorite.

MRS. DIRKSON
Man does not live by rumaki alone.

The women fight to get their dishes in the same place at the same time. Locked in combat, they exchange hostile glares.

EXT. BACKYARD - DAY

Mirroring Mrs. D and Mrs. Lipinski, Jamie and Bur exchange hostile glares. Jamie pitches. He swings and misses.

JAMIE
C'mon, Bur. Say it.

Bur rolls his eyes -- "Oh please."

BUR
Let go.

She pitches. He whiffs it again.

JAMIE
Mean it! Remember when you were
yelling at me? Use it, hit with it.

BUR
I sound like a real genius.

JAMIE
It'll keep you off the twerp list.

BUR
(With country accent) Let go!
(Like an NY gangster) Let go!

She pitches again. He wallops the ball. Sputtering, it's got a crazy trajectory and ends up SMASHING the window of -

INT. DINING ROOM - DAY

As Howard bites into a rumaki, he's surprised, mistaking the crunch of his bite for the breaking of glass.

HOWARD
What the ... ?

The ball bounces off the wall, colliding with the cups and saucers, shattering all but two of them, before finding its final resting place -- the pot roast.

Howard kneels over the pieces, holding them, protecting them like they were orphans. The fragments cut his hands.

EXT. JAMIE'S BACKYARD - DAY

In a mad rush for the door, Jamie and Bur get stuck. Jamie sweeps Bur aside; her gesture says, "I'll take care of this." Bur hands her two baseball cards, JIM LANDIS and DON DRYSDALE.

BUR
Here, it was my fault. Take 'em.

She darts off, and Bur's left holding the cards.

INT. DINING ROOM - DAY

Howard can't look at Jamie; instead, he fixates on the ball in the pot roast as if it holds the secrets of the universe.

JAMIE
I was teaching Bur a few tricks.

As Jamie confesses, Mrs. D. removes the ball from the pot roast with tongs. Howard hides his cut and holds one of the bigger pieces of china with the unwounded hand.

HOWARD
As your mom used to say, 'worse
things could happen -- as long
as we come out all in one piece.'

Mrs. D. starts to cry.

MRS. DIRKSON
God,  he loved that woman!   I
wonder if Ed  loved me a sixth,
an eighth, even a tenth as much.

Mrs. Lipinski joins in her tears.

JAMIE
Sorry. I'll replace 'em.

HOWARD
I know your mother would have
reassured you, told you, 'we
can live without almost anything.'

Howard smiles and mashes his hand against the fragment.

HOWARD (CONT'D.)
'Except Spam.'

Jamie stares at him like he's whacko. Mrs. D. cries louder.

JAMIE
I'll save up.

Mrs. D. gestures for Howard's pocket handkerchief. He obliges.

HOWARD
I know you're not planning to walk
down the aisle soon. Your mom,wanted
you to have 'em on your wedding day.

He hands her the two cups that have not been wrecked. Mrs. D., moved by Howard's sweet gesture, puts her arm through his. With this intimacy, Mrs. Lipinski compulsively eats her rumaki.

JAMIE
That's it? You're not gonna punish me?

HOWARD
Spanking's obsolete.

JAMIE
What about yelling?

Clenching his cut fist behind him to restrain his anger -

HOWARD
How can I be angry? It was
an accident. Dr. Spock says -

JAMIE
His book is for babies!

HOWARD
Your mom used to swear by -

JAMIE
You're not my mom!

HOWARD
I ... I... do my best.

Howard, Mrs. D. and Mrs. Lipinski look amazed as Jamie runs up the stairs at the speed of light.

MRS. LIPINSKI
Of course you do. A saint.
A living, breathing saint.

MRS. DIRKSON
For once, the woman's got a point.

He puts the unbroken cups carefully in the cupboard.

INT. JAMIE'S BEDROOM - A LITTLE LATER

Could be a boy's. Balls. Bats. Posters of Mantle and Maris. A MESS, candy wrappers, half-eaten baloney sandwiches. Jamie's miserable. The front doorbell rings, off screen.

HOWARD (O.S.)
Would you get it? I can't
take another helpful woman.

JAMIE
(snotty)
Why? They treat you like you
were Elvis or Paul McCartney.

STAIRWELL

Howard watches from the stairwell as Jamie opens the door to reveal -

EXT. FRONT PORCH - CONTINUOUS

PRISCILLA MOORE, (12), SISSY HALLOHAN, (12) and JUDY MILLER (12). They wear the same frilly pink polka-dotted shorts and the same hair-do, a flip, stiffly straightened and teased tight. It could be mistaken for cotton candy or a WIG. THE COPYCATS are so busy arguing they don't notice Jamie.

PRISCILLA
Who could've left a dirty
old baseball in my yard?

SISSY
Look on the bright side: where there
is dirt, there is  usually an H-I-M.

Humming - Sissy and Judy "I Will Follow Him. Forever and ever. I will be his true love. His true love."

The girls titter. Jamie's reaction off the giggles - "Girls, what jerks." Jamie clears her throat. They finally notice her. Priscilla offers Jamie oatmeal cookies in a basket, with a card.

PRISCILLA
Made 'em myself. Recipe's on the card.

Jamie just stares.

PRISCILLA
Tell your dad I'm sorry I
didn't bring cherry pie.

Priscilla's getting pretty nervous after all this staring.

Pulling himself together, Howard leaves his vantage point, goes downstairs.

HOWARD
Jamie, where're your manners?

Jamie takes the plate from Priscilla.

JAMIE
Swell of you and your mom
to think of us every month.

Jamie lets the basket fall. The cookies crumble. Priscilla gives her a look of compassion mixed with pity.

SISSY
She on a diet?

Priscilla pokes Sissy in the ribs. Sissy glares at Priscilla. Sissy's eyes say, "There'd better be a good excuse for the jab." Jamie can't take it. She's off.

HOWARD
Hope you'll forgive us.
She's not herself today.

INT. JAMIE'S ROOM - DAY

Hands over her ears, Jamie tries to block out Howard.

JAMIE
Not myself! Don't you get? Who'd
ya think let the cookies crumble?

HOWARD (O.S.)
It wouldn't hurt you to be
polite like Priscilla. Or
cut back on baseball and -

JAMIE
Go to charm school?

HOWARD (O.S.)
I didn't say that.

JAMIE
Or maybe private school like
Priscilla and her friends!

HOWARD (O.S.)
If you don't open this door in two
seconds, I'm going to... I'm going-

JAMIE
Send me to my room?

HOWARD
One...        

She pulls a sandwich wrapped in cellophane from under the bed. She unwraps a baloney sandwich, making plenty of noise.

JAMIE
Make me go without supper? Make
me promise not to touch Mrs. D's
pot roast? (beat) You really
know how to hurt a kid.
       

She can't eat. She wraps it up.

HOWARD (O.S.)
I want to talk. I really do. But not
tonight. Tonight is my big night at
the lodge. Sorry -- I've got to run.

JAMIE
(under her breath)
Me too.

HOWARD (O.S.)
See you later.

His footsteps leave and return.

HOWARD (O.S.)(CONT'D.)
Promise me we'll talk later?

JAMIE
Sure. Cross my heart hope to -

As she speaks, her fingers are crossed.

INT. JAMIE'S CLOSET - LATER THAT NIGHT

Outgrown pleasures -- a Slinky, Chutes and Ladders, an Apache fort and pink Play dough baseballs -- clatter on top of her. They don't faze her.

INT. JAMIE'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Jamie cautiously opens a suitcase -- it's already packed. She adds the baloney sandwiches and a photo, which she wraps gingerly in a sweater.

Tucking her hair under a baseball cap, Jamie, for all intents and purposes, could pass for a boy.

After heaving the suitcase out the window, she starts to follow, checks herself and then leaves the normal way.

EXT. GARFIELD STREET - NIGHT

As Jamie comes out of her yard, TODD FLINT, (12), already a prisoner of puberty with octopus arms and a scant goatee, opens a Cadillac door for Priscilla. He has on a black suit with thin lapels and, she, a party dress.

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