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When we first meet him, Jim Morris a young Navy brat (played by "Jurassic Park III's" Trevor Morgan) who discovers an emotional outlet in baseball. That's something he can never hope to find with his distant, by-the-book father (Brian Cox), whose frequent transfers take the family all over the country.
Eventually, the Morrises land in hardscrabble Big Lake, Texas, a map-dot town where football reigns supreme and baseball ranks lower on the prestige scale than squishing armadillos on the highway.
Flash forward a few decades and Jim Morris (now played by Dennis Quaid) has grown up to be a high school chemistry teacher. He's happily married to a colleague, Lori (played by "Six Feet Under's" Rachel Griffiths) and has become the kind of loving, supportive father his own never was.
He's also a loving, supporting coach to the hapless Big Lake Owls, the school's struggling baseball team, sharing not only the wisdom of the game but memories of his brief professional career, which ended in the minor leagues when he sustained a debilitating shoulder injury.
But a funny thing happens one day after practice. He starts throwing to the high school teams pitcher. He starts throwing heat, and feels good about it. The catcher is surprised, awed, and his hand stings from catching Morris fastballs.
The next time Morris gives his team a motivational speech about following their dreams, they give him a challenge: if they manage to pull an All-State Championship win, he goes to try out for the big leagues. Morris agrees. The high-schoolers make a triumphant turnaround and go all the way and manage to win All-States. After the championship they each shake Morris hand, saying Your turn, coach.
Morris keeps his end of the promise and drags his three kids to open tryouts for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He watches men half his age trying out and is convinced that the team doesnt have time to watch him pitch. Just as hes getting ready to go home, he is called.
He steps up to the mound and starts pitching. We dont see the numbers of the radar guns, but we know hes throwing hard. The coach comes up to Morris and asks him how fast he threw when he played in the minors. Morris says, around 85. The coach tells him that Morris threw 98 mph that day. After discussing it with his wife, they decide that he should give this one more shot. He spends a couple of months in the minors until one day, he is called up. His first game as a Devil Ray will be against the Texas Rangers at home.
Morris high school team goes berserk, putting flyers all over town, making the announcement. Morris son is completely starstruck. His father, however, still had reservations about whether Morris should take this risk again.
During the game, Morris sits on the bench, waiting for the call
Finally, it rings for him and hes called in.
He strikes the batter out in 3. The crowd goes wild.
After the game, he walks into a crowd of photographers and news crews but sees his father in the distance. He walks over, and for the first time, his father indicates that he is proud of what Morris has done. Morris gives his dad his game ball, and thanks him for coming.
Morris then goes over to his wife, who leads him to a throng of people from his town, who came to see him pitch.
The last shot of the movie is of Morris Devil Rays jersey hanging in his high schools trophy case. Turns out the he pitched two seasons in the majors, and went back to being a teacher in Texas.
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