Stealing First2.SCW by wpr1947

VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 119

									      STEALING FIRST
            by
Joan Golden & Cynthia Drew




                            Joan Golden
                    338 Clayton St., #2
                       Denver, CO 80206
                           303-322-2949
                joan.golden@comcast.net

                           Cynthia Drew
                 680 Meadow Creek Drive
                  Weaverville, NC 28787
                           828-680-9928
                     seedee@charter.net
                         STEALING FIRST

FADE IN:

INT. LOUISIANA SUGAR CANE MILL -- DAY (1957)

A sign reads "HOUMA SUGAR JUNE 1957 36 DAYS WITHOUT AN
ACCIDENT".

17-year-old boys work at menial jobs.     All of them are
drenched with sweat.

BILL MAGEE and brother BUTCH MAGEE paint a railing.     Butch
puts paint on his face like war paint.

                       BILL
           You gonna wear it like that?

Butch nods, and paints Bill's face the same way.

LYN ANGELL pulls his head out of a tank to show a shiner.

PINK BELLEW passes by, carrying a load of scrap metal.

                        PINK
           Wow.   He got you good.

                       LYN
           Yeah, but this time I got him back.

CAL KING fixes a boiler door while CRIP CORMIER looks on.
Supervisor ALONZO CASTILLE, 30's, calls from an upper deck.

                       ALONZO
           Hey! Summer job or no, you finish
           up or I'll put you in the fields!

                       CRIP
           I ain't doin' darkies' work!    Jesus!
                      CAL
           Careful! 'Lonzo started out in the
           fields. And don't go blaming Jesus.

RONNIE LE BLANC, 17, good looking, buff, moves a dolly of
sugar sacks to a loading dock. He starts to unload sacks,
but stares out at the cane in the fields.

A STEAM WHISTLE blows. End of shift. Bill, Butch, Lyn,
Pink, Cal and Crip find Ronnie on the dock. Two of them
carry baseball bats.

                        RONNIE
           Ready?

                       PINK
           Where's your dad?
                                                                2.

                        RONNIE
            Comin' from the cane field. He's
            always late. C'mon! Are we ready?

                           THE BOYS
            Ready!

EXT. SUGAR MILL LOADING AREA -- DAY

A pickup truck with "HOUMA SUGAR" on the side pulls up to
the dock. Its driver, GUY LE BLANC, 30's, leans out the
window.

                         GUY
            Hop in.   Ronnie, up here with me.

                        RONNIE
            I'll ride with the guys.

                         GUY
            Get in the damn truck.    I want to
            talk to you.

Ron does.   Wide-eyed, the others climb in the bed.

Guy drives off the lot.

EXT. LOUISIANA ROAD -- DAY

The truck rolls down roads lined with cane fields and oak
trees.

Dust plumes up behind the truck.      The boys are covered with
it.

INT. TRUCK -- DAY

Ronnie turns the radio knob as he drives.
                         RONNIE
            Where's KMOX? The Cards are playin'
            the Dodgers.

Guy reaches out to punch a button.      Ronnie swats his hand
away.

                           RONNIE (CONT'D)
            I'll get it.

                        GUY
            Listen for Joe Garagiola.

                           RONNIE
            I'll get it!     Wha'd you wanna talk
            about?
                                                            3.

                      GUY
          You playin' Breaux Bridge?

                      RONNIE
          Then Crowley, Perry, Breaux Bridge
          again, and then the quarterfinals.

                      GUY
          You think you can beat people like
          them?

                      RONNIE
          Like the Braves? Heck, yeah!

                      GUY
          People with savings accounts and
          front porches. Lucky people.

                      RONNIE
          So they have front porches.   So?

Guy takes a pack of cigarettes from his sleeve and lights
one.

                      GUY
          It's all we can do to stay one step
          ahead of the colored folk.

                      RONNIE
          I'm 4 and 0. Don't have to be lucky
          when you're good.

                      GUY
          I hope so, son.    I do.

EXT. LOUISIANA ROAD -- DAY

The truck turns onto another road. Past shanties and shotgun
houses. Then into a dry plain and up to a municipal baseball
stadium.

INT. TRUCK -- DAY

Guy pulls to a stop.

                      GUY
          Knock 'em dead.

                       RONNIE
          Gee.   Thanks for the pep talk.

They exit the truck, Guy to the stadium, Ronnie to the boys.

EXT. STADIUM PARKING LOT -- DAY

BUDDY HUVAL, 17, and his father, VERNON HUVAL, get out of a
truck that says "HUVAL & SON" on the side.
                                                           4.

Vernon puts his arm around Buddy before they split up: Vernon
to the bleachers, Buddy to the team.

ANDY GUIDRY, 17, gets out of a truck that says "COAL TAR
BABIES" on the side. He tries to wipe tar off his hands
with a rag. Joins the boys.

The boys AD LIB: "Hey, Andy, Buddy," etc.

They swat dust and sugar off themselves and each other, then
pull off their shirts and put on tattered, faded jerseys.

                      ANDY
          Godamighty, Buddy.   You ever wash
          that thing?

                      BUDDY
          Not so long as we're winnin'.     It's
          just gettin' good.

Butch puts his jersey on inside out. Bill puts his on
backwards. They laugh at each other.

                      CRIP
          Dang sugar sticks to everything!

Crip combs his hair, primps in the truck's side mirror.

                      ANDY
          Be glad it's not roofing tar. Hey,
          I heard there's a scout coming.

                      RONNIE
          You're kiddin'! When?

                      LYN
          Championship game.

Pink minces steps with his pinky fingers out.
                      PINK
          Prob'ly sign one of the Bayou Braves.

                      CAL
          And unto them that hath, it shall be
          given. Them that has, gets.

                      ANDY
          Be a lifetime ticket outta here.     No
          more tar, no more sugar.

Butch and Bill straighten out their jerseys.

                      LYN
          Hah! Whaddaya think we'll be doin'
          when we graduate?
                                                            5.

                      RONNIE
          That'd be so great.     Play major league
          ball.

Ronnie sees ERASTE BERNARD, 30's, dissolute, drinking from a
flask.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          And not have a worthless coach.

Ronnie holds up a dilapidated bat.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          I say, ready?

The boys reach in to grip the bat, their hands aligned up
the shaft.

                      THE BOYS
          Ready!

Ronnie collars Eraste and drags him along.

They run into the stadium.

EXT. STADIUM -- DAY

Ronnie enters, looks at the field, the crowd. He's all
smiles. He carries a worn-out baseball glove.

The ANNOUNCER's voice comes over the loudspeaker.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
          Gooood afternoon, ladies and
          gentlemen, welcome to Pep Dupuis
          Field here in Cecilia for an American
          Legion contest between the Nina
          Redbirds...
The boys wave.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (CONT'D)
          ...and Breaux Bridge's Bayou Braves.

A WAR WHOOP from the bleachers.

                       ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (CONT'D)
          On the field, Redbirds. Second base,
          LeRoy Huval.

Buddy waves to his dad in the bleachers.    Vernon waves back.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (CONT'D)
          Center field and left field, Wilbur
          and William Magee.

Butch and Bill make faces at each other and laugh.
                                                           6.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (CONT'D)
          First base, Lyn Angell.

Lyn glowers at the crowd.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (CONT'D)
          Third base, Calvary King.

Cal, hands folded, is praying.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (CONT'D)
          Right field, Andrew Jackson Guidry.
          At short, Cristophe Cormier.

Crip waves to CHERIE LANDRY, 16 going on sexpot, who hangs
on the fence, her boobs jiggling.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (CONT'D)
          Catching, Pinkney Bellew.

                       THE BOYS
          Pink-ney!   Pink-ney!

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
          Pitching, Ronnie Le Blanc.

Ronnie stands with Pink at home plate.    He talks like a radio
announcer--

                      RONNIE
          One of the finest pitchers in
          baseball!

He makes a breathy sound like crowds cheering.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
          Redbirds coach, Eraste Bernard.

Eraste puts the cap back on his flask and wipes his mouth.
                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (CONT'D)
          And now for the Braves...

The opposing team, the Braves, line up in front of their
dugout in spotless new uniforms and throwing attitude.

                      RONNIE
          Look at 'em. Dressed all pretty and
          lined up like girls at a dance.

Ronnie takes the ball from Pink and walks to the hill.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
          Batting eighth, Aypee Dupuis. Ninth,
          Wade Lee Gilbert. Coach, Denis
          Gilbert.
                                                            7.

EXT. STADIUM -- LATER

The scoreboard shows nothing, then goose eggs for two innings.

The sun beats down.   People wipe sweat with handkerchiefs.

Ronnie strikes out easily half the batters. Between pitches
he struts on the hill, ignoring AD LIB nasty comments "I've
seen better junk in a junkyard," etc. from the Braves' dugout.

When a ball is hit foul, the fans in the stands retrieve it
and give it back to put into play.

                      VERNON
          Your boy's quite a pitcher.

                      GUY
          Better'n I ever was.

Fans on one side cheer when one of the Braves hits a fly
ball. They boo when Bill Magee catches it.

Elderly PEP DUPUIS sits down next to BO BRASSEUX, 30's.

                         PEP
          Bo Brasseux!     You playing hooky from
          the bank?

                      BO
          I do what I please, Pep.

                      PEP
          My Gawd, it's hot.

                      BO
          Hot as dog shit in a skillet.    Your
          grandson's lookin' good.

At bat, AYPEE DUPUIS takes some practice swings.
                      PEP
          Aypee looks good ever' day.

Pink signals.   Ronnie nods and windmills on the mound.

Aypee checks his swing, but the umpire, EDDY BARIL, calls
strike one.

In the stands, Bo watches while Pep mops his head.

                      BO
          Yep, he's lookin' real good.

                      PEP
          Right. Y'know, Bo, now that Earl
          Long's called Bob Delcambre up to
          the state house, we need a new mayor.
                                                              8.

                         BO
             You got Junior Sain.

                         PEP
             Job'll suit you when Junior's term
             is over.

On the mound, Ronnie throws again, and Aypee swings.      Strike
two.

Back in the seats, Bo studies the field.

                          BO
             Mayor?

                         PEP
             On one condition. There's a scout
             comin'. You make sure that scout
             signs Aypee to the major leagues.
             I'll make sure you get to be mayor.

At home plate, Aypee swings hard and misses.       Strike three.

More boos.

As they trade sides, more AD LIB trash talk from the Braves:
"White trash," "Get them jerseys from the rag bag?" Etc.

The Redbirds bat next and Andy Guidry wallops a line drive
to center. The Braves misjudge it and Andy singles.

The Braves' pitcher gets halfway through his windup and halts.
Ronnie shouts at his coach.

                          RONNIE
             He balked!   Tell 'em!   That was a
             balk!

Eraste blinks at him.
                         RONNIE (CONT'D)
             You don't even know what a balk is,
             do you?!

Scoreboard shows Redbirds ahead 3-0 at the end of the third.

Signals on: Ronnie and Pink make solid eye contact time and
again. They're in perfect synch.

On a Braves' pop foul, Ronnie covers first base while Lyn
catches the ball.

More boos from the stands. Now the crowd is getting into
the attacks on the Redbirds.

Bo rises.
                                                             9.

                       BO
           Tell Junior not to get too comfy.

He makes his way to the Redbirds' dugout. He passes HOLMAN
"SCOOT" GROSHON, 30's, black, powerful, on the way.

                       BO (CONT'D)
           Outta my way, nigger.

Scoot stares at Bo for a long time, then steps aside.   Bo
passes and Scoot climbs to the "Colored" section.

Behind the Redbirds' dugout, Bo calls Eraste to the sideline.
He holds out a $50 bill.

                       BO (CONT'D)
           You need to get yourself another
           job.

Eraste salivates at the money, almost takes it, but hesitates.

                       ERASTE
           I'm coachin' so's I c'n pay off the
           Legion Hall. Y'know. For a drink
           or two.

Bo pulls out another $50.

                       BO
           Pay 'em off, and do your drinkin' at
           Dotty's from now on. Get lost.

                        ERASTE
           Right now?

Bo nods.   Eraste takes the money, heads for the parking lot.

Scoreboard shows Redbirds 4-0 in the middle of the fifth.
The Redbirds come in for their turn at bat.

                       RONNIE
           Think I can do what Don Larsen did?

                       BUDDY
           You don't talk about it!   Jinx it
           for the rest of us!

                       PINK
           You do it and I'll buy you a pack of
           rubbers.

                       RONNIE
           And I'll show you what to do with
           'em. Where's Coach?
                                                          10.

                      PINK
          Takin' a piss, I guess.

On the other sideline, Bo talks to the Braves' coach, DENIS
GILBERT, 30's.

                      BO
          If I get that scout to sign Aypee,
          Pep's gonna make me mayor.

                      DENIS
          Then we better stop these Redbirds
          or the scout won't look twice at
          Aypee.

                      BO
          It's already handled.

One of the Braves, Bo's son T-BO BRASSEUX, looks at his dad.

                      T-BO
          Papa! I could be that good...if
          Coach would let me play.

                      BO
          T-Bo, it's time to tell the officials
          the Redbirds are missing their coach.

                      T-BO
          But I don't--

                      BO
          Maybe I'll ask Denis here to give
          you some playing time.

T-Bo takes off from the dugout toward the officials' box.

In the bleachers, a man in a straw fedora, JACK DOYLE, draws
stares as he climbs to the Colored section and stands next
to Scoot. They acknowledge each other but nothing more.

On the field, Ronnie flexes his arm, grimaces, pitches.
There's a Brave on first.

A Braves batter hits a line drive straight back to Ronnie,
who catches it, then throws to first to get the runner out.

Ronnie takes the ball from Lyn.

                      LYN
          Coach ain't come back.

                      RONNIE
          We don't need him.

Ronnie massages his arm and winces again.
                                                         11.

Up in the Colored section, Jack Doyle looks at Scoot Groshon.

                      JACK
          That boy's got talent. You could
          help him with that arm.

                      SCOOT
          He has bigger problems than his arm.

INT. OFFICIALS' BOX -- DAY

T-Bo is talking to CHARLIE SAVOY, 50's.

The Announcer has his hand over the microphone.

EXT. STADIUM -- DAY

One of the Braves hits a sacrifice single, scoring a runner
from second.

Scoreboard reads 4-2.

Charlie Savoy comes on the field toward home plate.   Eddy
Baril waves at Ronnie to hold up.

Charlie and Eddy confer. Eddy throws his cap on the ground,
then follows Charlie to the pitcher's mound.

Eddy says something to Ronnie.

                         RONNIE
          What!

Pink bolts for the mound.

                      CHARLIE
          I'm sorry, son. You have to forfeit
          the game. Those are the rules.
                         PINK
          Whose rules?     Rules about what?

The Redbirds gather from the field onto the mound.

                      EDDY
          American Legion ball says you gotta
          show up, have enough men, enough
          equipment, and a coach.

                      RONNIE
          We have a coach, he's just - oh,
          wait. You don't want the Redbirds
          to win!

                      ANDY
          Don't, Ronnie.
                                                          12.

                      RONNIE
          You stopped it 'cause of that!      Whose
          idea was it? Huh?

                      CHARLIE
          That's not it at all.

In the stands, the crowd boos.

T-Bo starts to jeer, but then hangs back.

                      T-BO
          White...trash...filthy...bums...

Down on the field, Ronnie turns on the bleachers.

                      RONNIE
          Shut up, y'all! Shut up!       Just shut
          up!

                      LYN
          It ain't fair!

                      RONNIE
          What are we supposed to do now?

                      EDDY
          Right now you have to forfeit the
          game.

In the Colored section, Jack Doyle nods at Scoot Groshon.

                      JACK
          Never amount to anything with an
          attitude like that.

Scoot says nothing.   Jack starts down the steps.

Guy frowns at the field and turns to another spectator.
                      GUY
          What's goin' on?

The spectator shrugs.   Bo approaches.

                      BO
          Redbirds forfeit. Your boys are
          playing without a coach.

                      GUY
          Ain't their fault he's no-count.

                      BO
          Whyn't you get those boys a coach
          with some of your wife's money?
          'Stead of letting it sit in my bank.
                                                         13.

                      GUY
          You'd strangle your own people with
          a rosary, wouldn't you?

EXT. STADIUM PARKING LOT -- DAY

Pep and Aypee, Bo and T-Bo and Denis watch as Ronnie gets in
the pickup and the team jumps in the back.

Bo in particular makes note of the truck as it drives off.

                      BO
          In a Houma Sugar truck, too.

INT. TRUCK -- DAY

Guy argues with Ronnie.

                      GUY
          You woulda lost that game anyway!

                      RONNIE
          Did you even notice I was winning
          before the game was called? Geez!

A song comes on the radio.   Ronnie punches another button.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          I don't wanna listen to that!

                      GUY
          'S good music. Not what Father Lusk
          says makes young people fornicate.

Guy punches the button back.

                      RONNIE
          Find some fornicating music. How
          'bout "Hound Dog"? See if I touch
          myself.

                       GUY
          Ron.   I think it's time I tell you...

                      RONNIE
          Oh, here it comes.

                      GUY
          When I was your age...

                      RONNIE
          I don't wanna hear it right now!
          Anyways, Pink told me everything.

                      GUY
          Pink told you? How'd he know?
                                                          14.

                      RONNIE
          Maybe his Mama told him.

                      GUY
          You know all about it, then?

                      RONNIE
          You coulda mentioned it a few years
          ago. It's a little late now. Just
          drop me at the Legion Post.

INT. AMERICAN LEGION -- DAY

Ronnie enters, pauses a moment at a trophy case.

There's a big trophy. And old photos: parades of Legion
baseball teams surrounded by pretty girls.

And in a corner, a photo of soldiers with their arms around
each other. He lingers on it a moment until he hears--

Charlie and Eraste are talking.

                      CHARLIE
          Well, Eraste, I'm sorry to see you
          go.

Eraste turns to leave.    Ronnie sees him.

                      RONNIE
          What the hell! Where'd you go?

                         ERASTE
          I quit.

                      RONNIE
          In the middle of a game?!

                         CHARLIE
          Now, son--

                      ERASTE
          You're losers! Ever' last one o'
          you. I ain't coachin' a bunch o'
          losers!

He brushes past Ronnie and exits.

                      RONNIE
          You're the reason we lost!

Ronnie rounds on Charlie.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Some coach you gave us!
                                                   15.

                      CHARLIE
          I thought you'd be by.    Well, come
          on in.

INT. CHARLIE'S OFFICE -- DAY

More like a closet with a desk and file cabinet.

Charlie switches on a fan.

                         RONNIE
          So what now?     What about me?   And
          the team?

                      CHARLIE
          I'd be more inclined to help you if
          you'd'a kept your temper today.

                      RONNIE
          Kept my temper?! That no good--

                      CHARLIE
          I know why you did it. Don't do it
          again. Fact is, that Braves coach,
          Gilbert, is on the warpath. Filled
          out a official form to disqualify
          you. Alls it needs is a signature.

He holds out a sheet of paper.

                      RONNIE
          Gilbert's just a poor loser!

                      CHARLIE
          Denis Gilbert was a fine man before...
          See, that's how it works. Favors
          for favors. I made Eraste your coach
          'cause he owed me a favor.
Ronnie pounds the desk.

                      RONNIE
          So that's it? You're just cutting
          us loose?

The fan WHIRS.   A clock TICKS.

                      CHARLIE
          Well, now, here's a thing. This
          disqualification will have to wait,
          if you find a coach.

                      RONNIE
          How'd I do that?
                                                     16.

                      CHARLIE
          There is one man...might be what you
          need.

                       RONNIE
          All right.   Who?

                      CHARLIE
          Holman Groshon.

                      RONNIE
          But he's...he's a...he's...colored.

                      CHARLIE
          Pitched in the nigra league, he did.
          Won the New Orleans regional division
          game.

                      RONNIE
          But I play for your post! You're
          supposed to help me, not--

                      CHARLIE
          There goes your temper again!    Come
          here.

Charlie exits the office.   Ron follows.

INT. AMERICAN LEGION -- DAY

In the hallway, Charlie stops at the trophy case.

                      CHARLIE
          You see that? 1937 team.    Three of
          'em Milwaukee Braves now.

                      RONNIE
          Yeah, 'cause the Legion helped 'em
          out!
                      CHARLIE
          You're good. You could be in the
          majors, like them. All's keeping
          you from that is your pride.

                      RONNIE
          I can't go begging to a, a n--.    I
          can't!

                      CHARLIE
          A winning team would bring honor
          back to Nina. You know where Groshon
          lives?

Ronnie storms out, past the photo of the soldiers.
                                                             17.

EXT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

An unfinished frame house with a screen porch on the side.

Guy is in the yard. Ronnie walks past him.     YELLING and
SCREAMING come from inside the house.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

More unfinished projects: the framing is exposed on one wall,
a stack of doors in a corner, no woodwork.

BABETTE LE BLANC, 30's, grabs the face of eight-year-old
ISABELLA.

                      BABETTE
          A movie star? Hah! No studio would
          let you in like that!

Isabella's face is a mess of lipstick, eyebrow pencil and
tears.

                      ISABELLA
          Brenda Brasseux called me ugly and I
          said I was gonna be a movie star!

Babette tries to wipe the makeup off.

                      BABETTE
          Monique Comeaux's asked twice about
          her Congo Red lipstick. Now I have
          to re-order it.

Isabella sticks out her tongue and runs away.    Babette swats
at her and misses.

                      BABETTE (CONT'D)
          Stay out of my Avon, Isabella!
Ronnie enters.

                       BABETTE (CONT'D)
          She'll be the death of me before I
          get her to Hollywood. She's
          headstrong and I don't know where
          she gets it.

Babette moves to the kitchen.

                         BABETTE (CONT'D)
          You do okay?     You won today?

                      RONNIE
          No. We were ahead four-two in the
          seventh so they stopped the game.
                                                         18.

INT. KITCHEN -- EVENING

Unfinished as well.   Cabinets without doors, the fridge in
the way.

                        BABETTE
          'They' who?    Why'd they stop it?

Ronnie enters after Babette.

                      RONNIE
          Nobody's saying. Daddy was about as
          much comfort as a priest with fleas.

                        BABETTE
          Ronnie!

                      RONNIE
          For all the consolation I got? 'Give
          it up.' 'You won't win.' Geez, Mama.

Babette leans on the sink and looks out the window.

She sees Guy, in the yard, stubbing out a cigarette.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          How can you...still like each other?

                      BABETTE
          He was so full of promise. I used
          to want to crawl inside him, to see
          the future through his eyes. Dropped
          all my own plans to be a movie star.

They watch Guy use a penny to check the tread on a beater
Oldsmobile.

                      RONNIE
          Do you feel like that...any more?
Babette ties on an apron.

                      BABETTE
          I felt lucky he married me when I
          was pregnant with you.

                      RONNIE
          You always said it was the right
          thing.

                      BABETTE
          Now I just want so much to get ahead.

They watch Guy work under the hood of the Olds.
                                                           19.

                      BABETTE (CONT'D)
          When he came home from the war, he
          was up for promotion at the mill. I
          thought we'd get a new car, new house.

They watch Guy slam the hood of the car.

                      BABETTE (CONT'D)
          House I wanted, the pretty white one
          where the Arcenauxs live now? We
          couldn't afford it. So he started
          to build this one.

Babette wipes off the counter.

                      BABETTE (CONT'D)
          And then...that stopped, too.

                      RONNIE
          What happened, Mama?

                      BABETTE
          The promotion fell through.

Sound of FOOTSTEPS on the screen porch.

                      RONNIE
          Why?

                      BABETTE
          Alonzo Castille got the job.

Guy enters.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- NIGHT

The family sits down to the supper table.    Isabella is
scrubbed clean.
                      GUY
          Get used to it. Forfeiting is what
          Le Blancs do best.

                      RONNIE
          What I do best is win. When I'm on
          the mound, I can do anything.

He begins passing a bowl of mashed potatoes.

                      GUY
          Oh, you're good at baseball.     Game's
          always come easy to you.

                      RONNIE
          Baseball's important in this town.
          Winning would bring back honor to
          Nina.
                                                        20.

                      GUY
          Out in the real world, things don't
          come so easy.

Ronnie passes a bowl of green beans.

                      RONNIE
          That's your motto, isn't it? 'Don't
          expect anything and you won't be
          disappointed?'

                      GUY
          Sure be easier on you.

                      RONNIE
          Come July, Redbirds'll be on top.

                      GUY
          Showing up in rags and playing with
          beat-up bats so everybody sees how
          poor we are. Babette: tea.

Babette passes the tea pitcher to Ronnie, who gives it to
Guy.

                      BABETTE
          Guy? This is his last summer.   If
          he wants to dream--

                      GUY
          Like our dreams? Your handprints in
          cement or me as a country gentleman?

                      BABETTE
          Don't start that again.

She picks up a carving knife and begins to cut the legs off
a scrawny chicken.
                      GUY
          You wanna know my dream, kids? That
          your mama here turns loose of the
          twenty four hundred dollars she got
          when her daddy died.

                        BABETTE
          Guy.    Dammit.

                      GUY
          We could pay off the loan on this
          house! Put us on Easy street!

                        RONNIE
          Mama?
                                                           21.

                      BABETTE
          And you could buy another boat like
          the one, sank after three days?

Guy stands.

                      GUY
          I could finish the house--

Babette stands, still holding the knife, and they face off.

                      BABETTE
          Don't cost a dime to put a door on
          our bedroom, but no! You go out all
          night--

                      RONNIE
          We could get a good coach--

                      BABETTE
          No! I have plans for that money.
          I'm gonna buy me a business.

                      GUY
          Like hell you are!

                      BABETTE
          An investment in the future!

                      GUY
          This whole family's gone crazy! You
          wanna play baseball, you wanna be a
          movie star and now your Mama fancies
          herself a bidness woman!

                       BABETTE
          Well? If you can't get us ahead,
          then I will!
                      ISABELLA
          Could you please stop arguing!

Guy storms out of the house.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- NIGHT

Isabella lies on a cot.   Ron sits on a box next to her.

                      RONNIE
          You shoulda seen me today, Izzy.   I
          had a no-hitter going 'til the
          seventh.

                      ISABELLA
          I don't know what that means.
                                                               22.

                            RONNIE
             It was good.     A dream game.

                         ISABELLA
             Sometimes I dream I'm in Hollywood
             and I'm pretty.

She cries.    Ronnie wipes her tears.

                         RONNIE
             My dream is, there's a man coming
             called a scout. If I can play for
             him, he can get me with a big-league
             team.

                         ISABELLA
             What'll I do if you leave?

She rises.    Ronnie does, too.

                         RONNIE
             You just said you wanna be a movie
             star.

                         ISABELLA
             It's just a wish. I'll never be a
             star.

                         RONNIE
             You been listenin' to Daddy.

Ronnie picks her up and sits down on the cot, with her in
his lap.

                         ISABELLA
             I don't like it when everything's
             sad all the time.

                        RONNIE
             Yeah. Feels like everything's falling
             apart.

                         ISABELLA
             I'm scared something's gonna happen.

                         RONNIE
             I'm scared nothing will.

Ronnie gives her a hug.

                         RONNIE (CONT'D)
             Now go inside and let me have my
             bed.

Ronnie kisses her on top of her head.         Izzy gets up and goes
into the house.
                                                          23.

Ronnie lies on the cot. Sounds of LOCUSTS and CRICKETS.
Then, from the front room, RADIO SHOWS.

Ronnie stares at the darkness.

EXT. VACANT FIELD -- DAY

Some of the boys stand around tossing a baseball.

                      LYN
          Hey, Pink, that pup of yours gonna
          be a good huntin' dog?

                      PINK
          Yeah, I got him fetching rawhide
          bones now.

                      CRIP
          Why bother practice if we can't play?

                      RONNIE
          Crip, could your dad coach us?

                      CRIP
          My step-dad's always travelin'. My
          real dad, who knows where he is?

                       RONNIE
          Butch?   Bill? How 'bout your dad?

                      BILL
          He'd be great.

                      BUTCH
          As soon as he gets out.

                      CAL
          Ronnie, would your dad do it?
                     RONNIE
          Naw. He's got us losin' before we
          suit up.

                      CRIP
          All fathers are dumb.

                       CAL
          Ack!   Honor thy father--

                       BUDDY
          Hey!   I get along with my Pa!

                      LYN
          At least he don't beat the tar outta
          you. No offense, Guidry.
                                                       24.

                      ANDY
          My dad says the smell of tar is the
          smell of money. Then he treats me
          like the help.

                      PINK
          At least you have fathers.

                      LYN
          Wisht I didn't.

                      CRIP
          Let's go. My stepdad's got the
          Playboy with Jayne Mansfield on the
          cover.

The boys AD LIB "Woo hoo," "All right," "Who's the
centerfold?" etc.

                      BILL
          Might as well.

                      BUTCH
          We can't play.

All of the boys trail off except Ronnie and Pink.

                        PINK
          You comin'?

                      RONNIE
          I need to find us a coach.

                      PINK
          And give up havin' fun?

He slugs Ronnie on the arm.    Ronnie glares at him.

                      RONNIE
          Watch the arm.

                      PINK
          We don't need a coach.    We don't
          need to play!

                      RONNIE
          That scout's coming.

                        PINK
          Who cares?    He ain't lookin' at me.

                      RONNIE
          It's a break.

                      PINK
          Well, I'm gonna enjoy my summer.
                                                           25.

                      RONNIE
          I just want a break...

He shakes his head, and watches Pink walk off.

EXT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

A converted feed store on a sun-baked road.   A separate lean-
to shack with a stove pipe.

Two black men, FRANKLIN and MARCEL, sit on the front porch.

Ronnie drives by in the Oldsmobile. Then he drives by going
the other way. Then he drives up a third time, pulls up
onto the dirt outside the house, parks, gets out.

                      RONNIE
          Morning.

Ronnie mounts the stoop.

Franklin sharpens a stalk of cane with a machete. Marcel
cleans a shotgun. The men do not acknowledge Ronnie.

Scoot Groshon comes to the screen door, startles Ronnie.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Hello! I'm Ronnie Le Blanc, I pitch
          for the Nina Redbirds baseball team.

Scoot does not open the door.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Sir, I'd like to show you how you
          can be part of history--

                      SCOOT
          I'm already part of history.
Scoot walks away from the door.

The two men laugh at Ronnie.

                      FRANKLIN
          Take off, boy. Scoot's busy.

                      MARCEL
          He ain't comin' out.

Ronnie hesitates, then calls through the screen door.

                      RONNIE
          Mr. Groshon! Actually, sir, I need
          your help. Hello?

Marcel loads his gun, closes it and chambers a round.
                                                            26.

As Ronnie looks at him, the machete rushes past Ron's head
and sticks in the door frame.

                      SCOOT (O.S.)
          All right, come on in. Unless you'd
          rather be out there with them.

Ronnie opens the door and rushes in.     The two men laugh again.

INT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

Dark, tidy and cool.

Scoot scoops ice from a tub and pours a glass of tea.

                      SCOOT
          Have some tea.

                          RONNIE
          No, thanks.

                      SCOOT
          Suit yourself. 'S good, on a hot
          day like this.

                          RONNIE
          Well.   Okay.     Sure.

Scoot fixes Ron the tea.     Scoot has a pronounced limp.

                      SCOOT
          You lost yesterday 'cause you don't
          have a coach.

                      RONNIE
          The Braves get all the breaks, y'know?
          Batting coach, gloves, fancy uniforms.

                      SCOOT
          Don't even tell me how you've been
          treated unfair.

                      RONNIE
          The Legion Post said you might help.

Scoot drinks his tea. Limps to the tub for more ice, pours
more tea. Sits, massages a knee.

                      SCOOT
          Baseball isn't a fashion show. Isn't
          about the jersey. Isn't about having
          a new bat in your hands.

                      RONNIE
          But they called us white trash!
                                                 27.

                      SCOOT
          If I got a nickel every time someone
          called me a name, I'd be a rich man.

                      RONNIE
          They have everything!

                      SCOOT
          Except the right attitude. Winning
          attitude's the sweetest secret you
          can carry.

                      RONNIE
          Like stealing first?

                      SCOOT
          No such thing as stealing first.

                      RONNIE
          You're at bat, the catcher doesn't
          grab your third strike, you run like
          heck to first. It's put down as a
          passed ball or a wild pitch but it's
          your secret. You stole first.

                      SCOOT
          There's no such thing as stealing
          first. You have to earn it. If
          your opponent drops the ball, you be
          faster, smarter, better.

                      RONNIE
          My Daddy says we can't win.

                      SCOOT
          I've known Mr. Guy since the war.
          He's had some tough breaks. But
          you? You can outdo a bunch of thugs.
                       RONNIE
          But they--

                      SCOOT
          You gonna 'but' me at every turn?
          Any game, you'll get bad plays, bad
          breaks, bad calls.
              (he taps his head and
               chest)
          Anybody can be nice when they win.

Scoot opens a foot locker.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          It's how you are when you lose makes
          you a man.
                                                       28.

He pulls out a ball, hands it to Ronnie. Then pulls out a
glove. He strokes the leather, fingers the laces.

                         RONNIE
          You miss it.

                      SCOOT
          Can't play with this knee.

                      RONNIE
          You'd sorta be back in the game if
          you was our coach.

Scoot puts the glove on, looks at it, swivels his hand.
Smiles. Then he takes the glove off and hands it to Ronnie.

                      SCOOT
          That's the glove I used when we won
          the Negro League Regionals.

                      RONNIE
          I have a glove. It was my Daddy's.

Ronnie sets it aside.

                      SCOOT
          For crying out loud! It isn't
          contaminated 'cause it was worn by a
          darkie.

Ronnie puts on the glove.    His face lights up.

                       RONNIE
          Geez!   Can I use it?

Scoot nods.

                      SCOOT
          Now, about coaching.
                      RONNIE
          We can't pay you. Most of us just
          working this summer at the mill.

                      SCOOT
          I might do it...for other reasons.
          And the first thing is, you need to
          learn to pitch.

                       RONNIE
          Nuh-uh!   You saw the no-hitter--

Scoot squeezes Ronnie's arm above the elbow.

                         RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Aagh!   Ow!
                                                        29.

                      SCOOT
          Yeah, I saw you. You stand straight
          up and throw across your body. After
          a season, that stance'll wreck you.
          Outside.

EXT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

Ronnie and Scoot come out, past the men on the porch, into
the field next to the house.

                      RONNIE
          You'll louse up my game!

                      SCOOT
          Hah! I may be some dumb, but I'm
          not plumb dumb.

He kicks Ronnie's feet apart.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Spread those feet, bend your back.
          Now, gimme a pitch.

                      RONNIE
          Y'know, Mr. Groshon, we pretty much
          coach ourselves. Really, all you
          have to do is show up.

Scoot drops into an odd squat, his bad leg extended.

                      SCOOT
          You need help. You want me to coach
          or not?

Ronnie tries to throw a slider.

                        FRANKLIN
          Mm.   Mm.   Mm.
                      RONNIE
          I need to be dressed different for
          this.

                      SCOOT
          You need to be able to do it in a
          church suit, a clown suit or your
          birthday suit. Lemme show you.

Scoot pitches, a thing of beauty.

                        SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Now you.

Scoot squats again.   Ronnie throws another slider.
                                                     30.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Not just your arm. Use your legs
          and hips to give it more power.
          Like this.

Scoot fires a bullet.

Ronnie tries a fast ball.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Nah, nah. You need better mechanics
          for a fast ball.

                      RONNIE
          Maybe we should work on this some
          other time.

                      SCOOT
          What's wrong with now?

                      RONNIE
          Those men said you were busy.

                      SCOOT
          You need to build up muscles you
          haven't used right. Now. Make your
          body explode. Attack the strike
          zone.

Ronnie throws a bad curve ball.

The two black men catcall and laugh at him again.

                      RONNIE
          Do they have to watch?

                      SCOOT
          Don't telegraph your pitch. Glove
          between the waist and chest. Feet
          apart, I told you!

Ronnie winds up.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Try not taking such a big step back.

Ronnie winds up again, lifts his leg for the kick.

                       SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Hold it!   Can you balance just like
          that?

Ronnie does.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Don't let your arm get behind in the
          windup.
                                                           31.

Ronnie throws a powerful pitch that knocks Scoot off his
precarious position.

The men whistle and clap.

Ronnie goes to help Scoot up.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          All right, all right. That was okay.

As they continue, down the road comes a new DeSoto, the kind
with the huge tail fins.

Aypee is driving, and several of the Braves - including T-Bo -
ride along.

When they see Scoot and Ronnie, they begin shouting AD LIB,
"Hey, look at that!" "Playin' with the pickaninnies," "Nigger
lover," etc. But again, T-Bo hangs back.

Scoot calls Ronnie's attention back to the practice.

                        SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Hey!    You got a knuckleball?

                        RONNIE
          I tried it.    Didn't work.

                      SCOOT
          You can use it to rest your arm.
          I'll show you.

EXT. PINK BELLEW'S HOUSE -- DAY

Tiny and poor, but a little yard out front with a garden.

Ronnie is pitching to Pink now.

                       RONNIE
          All right? So from now on, I'll
          wind up like this...
              (he goes into his new
               windup)
          And... Knuckleball!
              (he fires a pitch)

REGINA BELLEW, 30's, Pink's mother, comes onto the stoop
with a pitcher of Kool-Aid.

                        PINK
          Yeah?    We had more fun at Crip's.

                      RONNIE
          Scoot's one amazing pitcher.     Fast,
          slow, hard, loopies--
                                                       32.

                      PINK
          You learned all this from the darkie.

                      REGINA
          Don't talk like that, Pink.   Who
          taught you what?

                      RONNIE
          I got some...pitching tips from Holman
          Groshon.

                     REGINA
          Of course. As nice a man as they
          come. And quite a baseball player,
          I hear.

Pink sets his mitt down by his feet to take a drink.

                      PINK
          I don't know about him coaching us.

                      REGINA
          Mr. Groshon was with your father in
          the war, Pink. Was there when he
          died. He told me all about it...I've
          always been grateful.

Pink puts his arm around her to comfort her.

                      PINK
          But he lived, and Pop didn't. Life's
          short, so laissez le bon temps rouler!

                      REGINA
          Let the good times roll.   You're
          just like your father.

                      PINK
          And Pop grew up with Ronnie's dad,
          didn't he?

                      REGINA
          And, you're getting old enough to be
          the man of the house, now - Oh, no!

                       PINK
          Aw, Jingo!

A puppy is chewing on the catcher's mitt. Pink laughs and
roughhouses with the puppy as he takes the mitt away from
him.

                      RONNIE
          Geez, don't let him tear that up!

                      PINK
          Shoot, he's just a pup.
                                                        33.

                      RONNIE
          Anyway, Scoot wants to meet the guys.

EXT. VACANT FIELD -- DAY

The boys stand absolutely silent and still, eyeing Scoot.

                      RONNIE
          Well, you may not like it, but we
          gotta have a coach, or we can't play.
          And Mr. Groshon played league ball.

                      LYN
          Nee-gro league.

                      BUDDY
          He can't even sit with us at the
          games.

                      RONNIE
          But we can play! Guys! He did more
          for my game in one hour than Eraste
          did in two years!

                      CRIP
          You c'n do what you want. I ain't
          takin' orders from Uncle Tom.

He turns to go.

                      SCOOT
          You shortstop?

                      CRIP
          What if I am?

                      SCOOT
          Where's your position for switch
          hitter?
                      CRIP
          Look here, boy--

                      SCOOT
          No, you look. I been watching you
          all play. You're good, but the
          question is, do you want to be great?

The Boys AD LIB "Sure," "I guess," "Why not?" etc.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          'Cause being great takes a lot of
          work. Now, I learned a thing or two
          playing with Satchel and Jackie. In
          addition to skills, I can teach you
          strategy.
                                                          34.

The boys look at each other--

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          I don't have to be here. But if you
          want my help, you'll have to get
          past the color of my skin.

The boys do not reply.

                      RONNIE
          Crip, if you quit, the rest of us
          can't play!

Crip pouts, returns to the group.

                         SCOOT
          All right!     Take your positions!

The boys reluctantly spread out across the field.

Scoot has them toss the ball, a round robin.    Then he begins
hitting to them.

INT. TOBACCO DISTRIBUTING WAREHOUSE -- DAY

Babette stands at a dirty counter.

HAYDEE WARD, 30's, sweaty, oily, comes from the recesses of
the warehouse. Hands her a paper.

                      HAYDEE
          Here you are, lovely lady. I'll
          send that in Monday morning.

                      BABETTE
          I need the cigarettes today. I don't
          usually drive a truck, you know.

                      HAYDEE
          No, it's standard practice, we wait
          for the check to clear.

                       BABETTE
          I thought we had an understanding,
          you...and I.

Haydee casts a glance over his shoulder.

                      HAYDEE
          Okay, sure. Why not. Let's get
          loaded. Get it? 'Let's get loaded?'

Babette forces a smile.

INT. AMERICAN LEGION -- DAY

Charlie drinks bourbon in his office as Denis enters.
                                                        35.

                        DENIS
          Savoy!    What in hell you doin'?

                      CHARLIE
          Afternoon, Denis.

                      DENIS
          'S all over town, the Redbirds are
          back in bidness.

                        CHARLIE
          I heard.

                      DENIS
          You were s'pose to sign that D. Q.!

                      CHARLIE
          I can't stop 'em if they got what
          they need to play. Don't you worry.
          The Redbirds are just a bunch of ill-
          mannered poor boys.

Denis storms off.

EXT. VACANT FIELD -- DAY

Scoot takes the ball and hits it to each one of the boys.
Some of them field it, some don't.

                      SCOOT
          This how you practice? Maybe you'll
          catch it, maybe you won't? You won't
          get better practicing 'maybes.'

Bill shouts from the outfield.

                      BILL
          We know what to do!
Scoot tosses the ball and smacks a high fly over Bill's head.
By the time Bill fields it, Scoot has limped to second.

                        BUTCH
          No fair!    The sun was in his eyes!

                      SCOOT
          Sun's over there.     He shoulda backed
          up.

                      BILL
          How'm I s'pose to know where you'll
          hit?

                        SCOOT
          Mm-hm.
                                                         36.

INT. BRASSEUX' HOUSE -- DAY

Big and ostentatious, like its occupants.

As Bo storms in, T-Bo meets him and trots alongside.

                      T-BO
          Papa, did you ask Coach Gilbert to
          let me play more?

                      BO
          Aypee needs to play.   So that scout
          will sign him.

                      T-BO
          Aypee, Aypee. And I'm just nothing.

They enter Bo's den.

INT. BO'S DEN -- DAY

Dark and plush. Bo gets out a bottle of bourbon and pours
himself three fingers.

                      BO
          You're getting tiresome, and I got
          bigger problems. The Redbirds got a
          new coach.

Bo shoots the bourbon and reaches for the phone.

                      T-BO
          Yeah, and I know who. I saw Ron Le
          Blanc in Colored Town with old man
          Groshon.

                      BO
          Mary Jo, get me Alonzo Castille.
              (to T-bo)
          Nigger, huh? Niggers' takin' over
          the whole damn game. Well, I'll
          stop 'em!
              (to phone)
          Alonzo, I don't like Le Blanc using
          a company truck for that baseball
          team. I don't give a rat's ass!
          Pep says I'll be mayor if that scout
          signs Aypee! So take care of it!

EXT. WAREHOUSE LOADING DOCK -- DAY

Haydee hands down a case of cigarettes.   Babette puts it in
the bed of the truck.

                       BABETTE
          Oh!   Is that the last?
                                                          37.

Haydee comes off the dock down to her.

                      HAYDEE
          Thirty cases. Can you handle 'em?

                      BABETTE
          Yes, I can manage.

He clamps his arms around her.

                      HAYDEE
          I bet you could manage me.

                       BABETTE
          Mr. Ward!   This is not a good idea.

                       HAYDEE
          Haydee.   Call me Haydee.

Babette squirts out from under his grasp.

She jumps in the truck and takes off.

INT. TRUCK -- DAY

Babette is hell-bent for home.    She pounds the steering wheel.

                      BABETTE
          Of all the nerve! When I get rich,
          no one will ever treat me that way!

She floors the gas pedal.

EXT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

Ronnie drives up to see Guy arguing with Alonzo.

Babette carries boxes from the truck to the screen porch.
                      BABETTE
          Well, if you can tell me another way
          to get this load home from Lafayette,
          you're smarter'n me. Guy? Can you
          at least help me here?

Ronnie gets out of the car.

                      RONNIE
          I'll help, Mama.

                      BABETTE
          Durn tootin' you will!    Where you
          been?

                      RONNIE
          Pink's, and practice.    And I found
          someone to coach!
                                                             38.

They carry boxes to the screen porch.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- EVENING

They add to a stack of boxes.   Babette goes inside.

Guy and Alonzo arrive with more.

                      ALONZO
          When the cane comes in this fall,
          I'll move up, and you get my job.

                      GUY
          The one interested in me gettin'
          promoted is her.

                      ALONZO
          I'm just sayin'. Don't use the truck
          for personal trips. Play ball with
          me, here.

Alonzo exits.

Ronnie puts an old oilcloth on top of the stack of boxes.
He anchors it with stuff - a brake shoe, a jar of nails, a
rock.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- NIGHT

Ronnie and Guy sit under a yellow bug light.    Guy drinks
whiskey and smokes.

                      RONNIE
          Catch any fish today?

                      GUY
          Couldn't catch spit if I stood
          downwind. Where'd you run off to?
                      RONNIE
          Went to see Holman Groshon.

                      GUY
          What'd you want with Scoot?

                      RONNIE
          He said he'd coach us. Daddy? Did
          you know him from the war? Pink's
          Mama said--

                      GUY
          Why you askin' me?    You said Pink
          told you about it.

                      RONNIE
          Huh?
                                                      39.

Guy takes a drink.

                      GUY
          Yesterday. In the truck. I 'uz
          gonna tell you 'bout it, an' you
          said you knew.

                      RONNIE
          I thought you meant...women.   And...
          you know...

                      GUY
          Godamighty. You don't know 'bout
          the birds and bees by now, I'd take
          you to Dotty's next time I go.

                        RONNIE
          No, thanks.    But you and Pink's Daddy -
          in Germany?

Guy takes another drink.

                      GUY
          Italy. We 'uz s'pose to patrol west,
          up the Liri River. The platoon leader
          wanted Johnny Bellew to lead. Lord,
          one of the other guys kicked up a
          fuss; he wanted the job and Johnny
          was never one to be serious.

                      RONNIE
          Mrs. Bee said as much.

                      GUY
          You gotta understand, we were all
          scared shitless. Johnny was nervous,
          stuck his head up, got shot. I took
          out the Jerry what shot him and--
                       RONNIE
          Wow!   You killed a man?

                      GUY
          Killing's anything but 'wow.'
          Anyways, I captured another one, but
          I got pinned down.

                      RONNIE
          What about Scoot Groshon?

Guy drinks again.

                      GUY
          Scoot was in the 92nd, hauling
          casualties. He saw me.
                      (MORE)
                                                        40.

                      GUY (CONT'D)
          Danged if he didn't jump in the river
          and swim over - all the time under
          fire. Got Johnny. I took the
          pris'ner back.

                       RONNIE
          See?   Le Blancs can be lucky.

                      GUY
          Worst day of my life.       My bes'
          friend...died.

Guy starts weeping silently.

EXT. BUDDY HUVAL'S TRAILER -- DAY

An old travel trailer surrounded by wrecked vehicles and a
sign that reads "HUVAL & SON MACHINE & REPAIR".

The entire Redbirds team trails after Buddy and his father.

They walk toward an ancient school bus that says "ST. MARTIN
PARISH" on the side.

                         VERNON
          Here she is.

                      BUDDY
          How 'bout it, Pa?       Can we have it?

                      RONNIE
          Not having Daddy's truck puts us in
          a jam.

                      VERNON
          Good thing I'm a baseball fan!

The boys AD LIB "Great" "Fantastic" etc.
                         BUDDY
          Thanks, Pa.

Buddy hugs his father unabashedly.

                      VERNON
          But hear me out, y'all. Buddy here's
          got to drive, he's the only one can
          handle all them gears.

Vernon playfully wraps his arm around his son's neck.

                      VERNON (CONT'D)
          And you got to give her back at the
          end of the season.
                                                            41.

                      BUDDY
          We'll take good care of it!

INT. BUS -- DAY

Buddy sits behind the wheel and tries the ignition.     Nothing.

EXT. BUS -- DAY

Vernon adds fresh gas to the tank.

INT. BUS -- DAY

Buddy pumps the accelerator and tries again.     Nothing.

EXT. BUS -- DAY

Vernon pats the hood.

                      VERNON
          I know what it is, Bud!    Tell 'em!

Buddy sticks his head out the window and guffaws.

                        BUDDY
          Pa!

                      VERNON
          If you don't, I will! Git on the
          bus, boys. Buddy and me made up a
          voodoo chant that'll start anything!

The Redbirds board the bus.

INT. BUS -- DAY

Buddy shakes his hands in the air.

                      BUDDY
          Sun so hot my blood will boil/ Rub
          my head with crankcase oil/ Bring a
          force unknown to science/ Call on
          Yankees, Dodgers, Giants/

Buddy starts down the aisle.    The boys stomp their feet in
time.

                      BUDDY (CONT'D)
          Smell of sweat and axle grease/ Whitey
          Ford and Pee Wee Reese/ Campanella,
          Mantle, Mays/ Infield fly rule, triple
          plays/

Buddy takes the driver's seat again.

                      BUDDY (CONT'D)
          Start the bus, oh, baseball gods/
                                                   42.

He holds in the start button.

                      BUDDY (CONT'D)
          Take us down these Dusty Rhodes.

The engine starts.    The boys CHEER.

EXT. BUS -- DAY

The bus takes off.    Vernon waves.

EXT. OUTSIDE MILLER STADIUM, CROWLEY, LA. -- DAY

Denis and his son, WAY DELL, stand outside.

                      WAY DELL
          How long do we hafta wait?

                      DENIS
          Vic'try is ours, Way Dell. The
          Redbirds don't show up, Crowley wins
          by forfeit, we report back to Bo.

The bus pulls up and the boys spill out.

                      RONNIE
          We got the bus, we got here.     Let's
          win this one!

                      PINK
          If we gotta play, let's have some
          fun!

Ronnie frowns.

Denis hides his face from them.

                      DENIS
          Aw, shit! How'd they git that?      I
          jus' knew this would happen!

                      WAY DELL
          What you gonna do?

                      DENIS
          I'm not gonna do anything, 'cause I
          can't be caught! You go find a kid.

                        WAY DELL
          What kid?

                        DENIS
          Any kid!    Give him this--

Denis writes on a piece of paper.
                                                          43.

EXT. INSIDE MILLER STADIUM -- DAY

The game begins.

Scoot addresses the team, then goes to sit in a wooden chair
at the end of the third base line.

The Redbirds score three runs in the first two innings.

Ronnie is playing very well, pitching the way Scoot taught
him.

Way Dell moves through the stands. He gives the note to a
boy, points to the Redbirds' dugout.

The boy trots over to the bench, delivers the note to Lyn
Angell.

Angell opens it, wads it, tosses it.

                      RONNIE
          What was that?

                      LYN
          Said to call home.    My dad's been
          hurt.

                      RONNIE
          You gotta leave? If you leave,
          they'll stop the game.

                       ANDY
          Ronnie!   It's his dad!

                      LYN
          I ain't leavin'. It's a joke.
          Whoever wrote that don't know, my
          dad took off.
                       CRIP
          Geez.

                       RONNIE
          Sorry.

                      LYN
          I ain't. He 'uz beatin' Mama again
          so I cold-cocked him. He come to,
          told us 'go to hell' and took off.
          We ain't seen him since. It's better.
              (he calls to the batter)
          Hey, Butchie! Hit it where they
          ain't!

When the teams change sides, Andy Guidry fumbles a grounder.

Bill Magee throws a weak ball to Lyn, and misses.
                                                             44.

A Crowley batter bunts, Cal tries to get it, blows it.

Scoot shakes his head.

                         SCOOT
             Cal, run up on it!

                         WAY DELL
             Siddown and shaddup, nigger!

Buddy strikes out.

Ronnie pitches another good inning, but Crowley reaches on a
single.

When another Crowley player gets a hit, Crip, Cal and Buddy
miss the double play. Crowley scores.

Then Ronnie throws a wild pitch, curses himself.

Lyn gets a called strike out to end the game.       Crowley wins,
5 to 3.

Scoot wearily gets up to take his chair back and leave.

INT. BUS -- DAY

Scoot approaches the boys as they wait to board the bus.

                         SCOOT
             What happened out there? Did you
             forget everything I told you?

                         CRIP
             You know what? We did fine, till
             you came along.

                         SCOOT
             You need to pay attention to what's
             going on. Stay on the ball.

He leaves.    The boys board the bus.

                         BUTCH
             'Stay on the ball!   Shift right!
             Come up on it!'

                         BILL
             We're just glad we're playing.

The boys chant half-heartedly:

                         THE BOYS
             Sun so hot my blood will boil.   Rub
             my head with crankcase oil.

Buddy starts the bus.
                                                        45.

INT. BUS -- DAY

The bus rolls along a road.

                      PINK
          It's too hard. It ain't worth it.

                      RONNIE
          It is worth it! If I...if we win,
          we get to the championship game!

                      LYN
          You're dreaming, man.

                      RONNIE
          We're 4 and 2, we're still in the
          hunt. So let's buckle down and start
          winning! What do you say?

                      CRIP
          Who died and left you in charge?

EXT. BRASSEUX' HOUSE -- EVENING

Bo comes out the front door to talk to Denis on the front
porch.

                      BO
          They showed up?     How'd they get there?

                      DENIS
          A damn school bus. But don't worry.
          I...worked a little of my special
          voodoo and made sure they lost.

                      BO
          Hocus-pocus won't keep 'em from the
          next game. I'll have to think of
          somethin' else.
INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- DAY

Guy and Ronnie count the boxes as Babette writes numbers on
paper.

                      BABETTE
          Okay. I paid a dollar a carton.
          Sixty cartons in a case, right?

                      RONNIE
          Right.

                      BABETTE
          How many cases?

                      RONNIE
          Twenty-eight, twenty-nine, thirty.
                                                         46.

                      GUY
          You gave him the whole twenty four
          hundred?

                      BABETTE
          And he gave me this paper, says I
          bought thirty cases. Shoulda been
          forty.

                      GUY
          Did you sign anything?

                      BABETTE
          You're always tellin' me, 'just sign
          the dang paper, Babette.'

                      GUY
          You lost six hundred dollars!

                      BABETTE
          I'll get the boxes back, Guy--

                      GUY
          Don't ever talk to me about my three
          day boat! You lost six hundred
          dollars!

                      RONNIE
          I got practice.

EXT. VACANT FIELD -- DAY

The Redbirds are practicing.   Pink's catching; Ronnie, at
bat, strikes out.

                      SCOOT
          Okay. Fielders, start a cutoff drill.
          Ronnie, let's do some batting
          practice.
                       PINK
          Let's not.

Scoot moves to the mound.

                      SCOOT
          We'll start with easy hits down the
          base lines. Then we'll practice
          bunts.

Scoot tosses an easy pitch, Ronnie smacks it halfheartedly.

                      RONNIE
          I gotta learn to slug it!
                                                           47.

                      SCOOT
          We'll get there. I want to work on
          this first.

Scoot pitches harder.   Ronnie misses.

                      PINK
          See what he's doin'? It's a game
          and he wants you to work at it!

                      RONNIE
          He's tryin' to help.

                      SCOOT
          Put your back elbow down.      Stay on
          top of the ball.

Ronnie drops his elbow.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          You want power, don't squeeze the
          bat. Use your muscles for hitting.
          Roll your wrists.

                      PINK
          He likes bein' the one givin' orders
          for a change.

                      RONNIE
          I wanna play good's I can.      C'mon.

EXT. LOUISIANA ROAD -- DAY

The bus rolls down the road.   The side of the bus reads "MARSH
PASTRI".

INT. BUS -- DAY

The Redbirds are on their way to another baseball game.
Butch and Bill look at baseball cards.

                      BUTCH
          Honus Wagner? Who's Honus Wagner?

Bill shrugs and flips the card out the window.

                      RONNIE
          You got the guys on the '37 Nina
          team, play for Milwaukee now?

Butch and Bill look through the cards.

Then suddenly Buddy hits the brakes and baseball cards go
flying.

The boys AD LIB "Ow!"   "What the heck?"    "Hey, Buddy" etc.
                                                          48.

EXT. BUS -- DAY

The road has dead-ended in a vast cane field.

INT. BUS -- DAY

They all look out except Buddy, who checks a paper.

                      RONNIE
          You sure this is right?

                      BUDDY
          West on 90 to Rayne, north to Perry.

                      RONNIE
          Perry's south of here!

                      BUDDY
          The guy said, north.

                      RONNIE
          What guy?

                      BUDDY
          Sounded like Coach Eraste. Said he
          wanted to make sure we had directions.

                      RONNIE
          You didn't smell a rat when he called
          you? You are such an idiot!

Buddy hangs his head, starts the bus, turns around.

INT. TOBACCO DISTRIBUTING WAREHOUSE -- DAY

A sign on the counter reads, "VINA JAMES". VINA herself
sits behind the counter as Babette storms up.

                       BABETTE
          I wanna see Haydee Ward and I wanna
          see him now!

                      VINA
          Mr. Ward doesn't come in till later.
          May I leave him a message?

                      BABETTE
          There's a disparity between the amount
          of money I gave him and the amount
          of cigarettes he sold me!

                      VINA
          Mr. Ward sold you cigarettes?

                      BABETTE
          He sold me the distributorship for
          Nina and Cecilia.
                                                             49.

                      VINA
          Ma'am, you must be mistaken.

Babette slaps the contract on the counter.

                      BABETTE
          I am not mistaken! My hand to God,
          I paid twenty four hundred dollars
          and he only gave me thirty cases!

                      VINA
          Hang on a minute, hon.

Vina disappears into the back.

EXT. PERRY BALLFIELD -- DAY

A tiny town ballpark.    The bus pulls in as the last fans are
leaving.

Ronnie jumps off and tries to stop them.

                         RONNIE
          No - wait--

A sign goes up on the fence: "PERRY WINS DUE TO NINA FORFEIT".

                         RONNIE (CONT'D)
          No!

Ronnie rips the sign down.

Scoot Groshon comes up, sees Ronnie going nuclear.

                      SCOOT
          You were s'posed to be here an hour
          ago!

                       RONNIE
          No!   Everybody, come back!

The boys AD LIB "Wrong directions" "Buddy got a call" "went
way north," etc.

                         RONNIE (CONT'D)
          We're here!     We can play!

Scoot grabs him by the arm.       There's a flutter of tension
and Scoot releases him.

                      SCOOT
          You settle down! Now!        One at a
          time! Cal!

                         CAL
          We got lost.
                                                              50.

                      ANDY
          Coach Eraste called Buddy and gave
          him the wrong directions.

                      RONNIE
          Somebody's out to get us!

                      SCOOT
          All right, it happened. Put it behind
          you. We play the Braves in two days.

INT. TOBACCO DISTRIBUTING WAREHOUSE -- DAY

Babette waits at the counter.       Vina finally reappears.

                      BABETTE
          Took you long enough.

                      VINA
          Our inventory shows thirty cases of
          Lucky Strikes missing.

                      BABETTE
          That's right. He shoulda given me
          forty.

                      VINA
          He shouldn't have given you any,
          hon.

                          BABETTE
          Why not?

                      VINA
          Because Haydee is - was - our janitor.
          I have to call the police.

Vina picks up the phone.
                          BABETTE
          What!?   Why?

                      VINA
          You've been receiving stolen goods.

                      BABETTE
          And your employee swindled me!

Babette storms out.

EXT. TOBACCO DISTRIBUTING WAREHOUSE -- DAY

Babette climbs in the Oldsmobile, leans her forehead on the
steering wheel and cries.
                                                                51.

EXT. PINK BELLEW'S HOUSE -- NIGHT

Ronnie punches his fist into his glove as he paces back and
forth in the front yard.

                      PINK
          Will you un-lax, man? You're like a
          banty rooster in a barnyard.

                         RONNIE
          I'm pissed!     At this rate--

                         PINK
          Simmer down!     Take it easy!

Ronnie spikes the glove on the ground.       He and Pink sit.

                       RONNIE
          I dunno.   Something's going on.

                      PINK
          Things happen.

                      RONNIE
          We're 4 and 3 now--.

                      PINK
          So, quit while we're ahead.

                      RONNIE
          I gotta get to the championship game!

                       PINK
          We coulda took it easy this summer,
          but nooooo--

Unseen by the boys, the dog grabs Ronnie's glove.

                      RONNIE
          We need to tighten up.    Not trust
          anyone.

Ronnie sees Jingo a second too late.       He grabs a bat--

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Hey! Get it! Get my glove away
          from your dog!

Pink springs, tries to yank Ronnie's glove from Jingo.

Jingo hangs on, even when Pink lifts him into the air.

                      PINK
          Oh, lookit this--

Pink laughs.   The glove starts to rip.
                                                   52.

Jingo sprawls on the porch.

                       PINK (CONT'D)
          Get it.   C'mon, boy, get the glove!

                      RONNIE
          What the hell are you doing?!!

Jingo barks and lunges--

Ronnie tenses to swing the bat--

Pink pushes him away--

Ronnie swings at Pink instead.    Pink ducks--

                         RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Gimme that!

He rips the glove from Pink's hand.

                      PINK
          It's not even your glove!

                      RONNIE
          You got no more brains than that
          mutt! You're prob'ly the one helping
          put the Redbirds down!

                      PINK
          You got no call to say that!

                      RONNIE
          It's true! You don't want me to
          play for that scout!

                      PINK
          We're buddies, and buddies have fun
          together!
                      RONNIE
          Cripes! I don't think we'd be friends
          at all except our dads were!

                      PINK
          Then I'll show you who's your friend!

Pink strips off his jersey, throws it at Ronnie.

                       PINK (CONT'D)
          I quit!   Now none of you can play!

Ronnie scoops up the stuff.

                      PINK (CONT'D)
          Git off my porch! And go to hell!
                                                           53.

EXT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- NIGHT

Ronnie juggles all of the equipment and the jersey as he
walks up to the house.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- NIGHT

Izzy lies on Ronnie's cot, crying.

                          RONNIE
          Izzy?   Izzy.

                      ISABELLA
          There's nobody here in Nina to play
          with and when we go to town I see
          Brenda and she has friends and they
          call me ugly trash.

                      RONNIE
          They're jealous, Iz.

                      ISABELLA
          What'd I ever do to her?

                      RONNIE
          When Mama took you to that child
          model contest, you almost won.

                      ISABELLA
          But Brenda won anyway.

                      RONNIE
          'Cause her daddy paid for it, not
          'cause she's prettier. What's for
          supper?

                      ISABELLA
          Mama cried so hard she got a sick
          headache. She's in bed.
                      RONNIE
          Where's Daddy?

                      ISABELLA
          Went to town. He wouldn't let me go
          with him.

Ronnie looks at his ruined glove.

                      RONNIE
          Come with me. I'll fix some eggs.

EXT. LOUISIANA SUGAR CANE MILL -- DAY

A few paces from the loading dock, Butch, Bill, Cal, Crip
and Lyn wait by a rail car.
                                                          54.

                        BILL
            This is the only part I really hate.

                        CRIP
            They think we're mules.

                        CAL
            We are strong, like Nimrod.

Snickers.

                         CAL (CONT'D)
            It's true!   Nimrod was a strong man!

Pink approaches with a load of rail car moving sticks in a
wheelbarrow.

The boys AD LIB "Hey, Pink," "I'll take one," "Thanks," as
they each take a stick.

Pink departs silently.    He walks away as Ronnie approaches.

                        BUTCH
            You see that?

                        LYN
            There's somethin' goin' on, all right.

                        CRIP
            They're not speaking.

They fit the rail car movers to the rails.

                        BUTCH
            They're goin' out of their way to
            not speak.

                        RONNIE
            Yeah, well, Pink quit the team.
                         CRIP
            What!

                        RONNIE
            He was lettin' his dog use my glove
            for a chew toy.

More snickers.

                        RONNIE (CONT'D)
            When I got mad, he went nuts.

                        BILL
            What do we do now?

                        CRIP
            More time to spend with the ladies.
                                                          55.

                      LYN
          Does your jungle bunny coach know?

                      RONNIE
          We'll get a catcher before he finds
          out. Any ideas?

There's no response.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Ask around. Next game's a must-win
          for us or we don't go to the playoffs.

                      CRIP
          Who do we play?

                        RONNIE
          The Braves.

Ronnie takes a rail car mover and joins them as they struggle
to move the giant, heavy car.

EXT. BRAVES PRACTICE -- DAY

Way Dell questions Denis's tirade.

                      WAY DELL
          Why do we hafta play the Redbirds?

                      DENIS
          Because I said so, and I'm the coach.

                      WAY DELL
          But their coach--

                      DENIS
          I know, we shouldn't have to go up
          against a nigger coach.
The Braves AD LIB: "I ain't playin' 'em," "My dad will kill
me," "I can't do this," etc.

                      WAY DELL
          Aypee's gotta play. We don't.

                      DENIS
          Way you're goin' your butt will shine
          the bench the rest of this mis'able
          summer. Y'all practice! I don't
          coach losers!

The boys check to see which of them are losers.    They disperse
except for T-Bo, who approaches Denis.

                       T-BO
          Coach.   Let me play.
                                                        56.

                      DENIS
          How many times I gotta tell you?
          Your Papa says I got to play Aypee.

                      T-BO
          Then cut me. I'm no good to you on
          the bench. Coach? Coach Gilbert?

Denis waves him off.

T-Bo smiles.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- NIGHT

Ronnie sits at the table reading box scores and listening to
the Giants game - Willie Mays is batting - while Babette
does dishes.

Isabella calls out from the front room.

                        ISABELLA (V.O.)
          Rah-nee!

                        RONNIE
          What?

Izzy enters.

                      BABETTE
          Ladies do not yell like that!

                      ISABELLA
          Icky Brenda Brasseux's icky brother
          is here.

Ronnie passes through to the front door.

T-Bo talks through the screen.
                      T-BO
          Hey, Ron. Can I come in? I gotta
          talk to you. Look, Papa finds out
          I'm here, he'll slap me into the
          middle of next week.

Ron opens the door.    T-Bo enters, recoils.

                        T-BO (CONT'D)
          Godamighty!

                      RONNIE
          Callin' me names ain't enough?       You
          gotta come laugh at my house?

                      T-BO
          No, no! I'm here 'cause...I heard
          you need a catcher.
                                                   57.

                      RONNIE
          Says who?

                      T-BO
          I'm just sayin'.

                      RONNIE
          You play for the Braves.

                      T-BO
          Not any more. Coach Gilbert cut me.
          He and Papa, all they care about's
          win, win, win.

                      RONNIE
          Right now I'd like a win, myself.

                      T-BO
          Well? You gotta have a catcher or
          you can't play, right?

                      RONNIE
          I've never seen you play.

                      T-BO
          Nobody's seen me play.    But I can do
          it, Ron, I know.

Ronnie does not respond.

                      T-BO (CONT'D)
          I just wanna play ball. And you -
          you Redbirds - you're good. Please,
          Ron? Please?

EXT. VACANT FIELD -- EVENING

The Redbirds crowd around Ronnie.
                      CRIP
          You said that dog turd could play
          for us?

                      RONNIE
          Told him to be at tomorrow's game.

                      ANDY
          He's never been on our side!

                      CAL
          He always runs us down.

                      RONNIE
          You want to quit? Forfeit the rest
          of the season? He's available, he
          wants to play, and he's got the gear.
                                                         58.

                      ANDY
          We shoulda had a say in it.

                      LYN
          Never mind what you called Buddy.
          You pissed Pink off till he quit and
          told that shit T-Bo to show up!

                      CRIP
          Not to mention the jigaboo coach.

                      BUDDY
          When'd you get all stuck on yourself?

                      LYN
          You think more of your batting average
          than you think of us!

                      RONNIE
          It's do-or-die! We lose this, we
          don't make it to the championship.

                      LYN
          We'd be better off if we lost you
          and got Pink back!

                      RONNIE
          You need me more'n you need Pink!
          Weren't for me you'd still be out
          here with broomsticks and rubber
          balls!

                      CAL
          Awright, T-Bo can play.   But Geez,
          Ronnie...

                      BUDDY
          It 'uz wrong not to ask us.
                      LYN
          You watch yourself, Le Blanc, or
          I'll beat you so bad you'll never
          throw another ball.

EXT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

Eraste Bernard is parked in front of Scoot's house. Eraste
sucks the last bourbon out of a bottle and gets out of his
car. He goes to the rear and opens his trunk.

He funnels some kerosene into the bottle.   Then he stuffs a
rag into the neck.

He ducks under the trunk lid, pulls out a Zippo, and lights
the rag.
                                                          59.

A green flatbed truck pulls up alongside.    Marcel flashes a
smile at Eraste.

                         MARCEL
          Hey la bas?     Help you with anything?

                      ERASTE
          Naw, I just stopped to take a leak.

The rag is starting to burn down.

                      MARCEL
          Pissing in your trunk?

                      ERASTE
          No! No, of course not.     Just getting
          something out.

                      MARCEL
          That's fine. But you wanna watch
          yourself out here. Dangerous country
          for a white man.

                      ERASTE
          I'm on my way.

Eraste stays where he is.

Marcel pulls his shotgun onto his lap.

                      ERASTE (CONT'D)
          Thanks for the warning. So long,
          now.

Neither of them moves.    Finally the truck pulls away.

INT. FLATBED TRUCK -- DAY

In his side view mirror, Marcel sees Eraste lob the kerosene
bomb into the lean-to at the side of Scoot's house.

EXT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

Eraste waits.   There's no explosion, no fire.

The flatbed truck reverses and is coming back.

Eraste slams the trunk lid and scrambles for the driver's
seat.

He guns the gas and fishtails away as a shotgun blast peppers
the rear of his car.

EXT. BUS -- DAY

The side of the school bus now reads "SMARTI PANTS".
                                                           60.

The boys gather.    T-Bo stands apart.   They board the bus.

INT. BUS -- DAY

Buddy gets ready to start.

                      RONNIE
          I say, ready?

                      EVERYONE BUT T-BO
          Sun so hot my blood will boil,/ Rub
          my head with crankcase oil...

T-Bo watches them with amazement.

INT. BUS -- LATER

The bus rolls past Burma Shave advertising signs.

The boys on the right read in chorus; the boys on the left
move over to see.

                       THE BOYS
          Big blue tube/ It's a honey/ Best
          squeeze play/ For love or money/
          Burma Shave.

                      BILL
          Hey, what exactly is a squeeze play?

                      RONNIE
          Why don't you know this stuff?

                         BILL
          I do.     Butch doesn't.

Butch slugs Bill on the arm.

                      ANDY
          It's Crip in the back seat with Cherie
          Landry.

Crip mugs a hug and a kiss.    The boys laugh.

                       CRIP
          Woman's lookin' for a good man, and
          I'm the one.

                      RONNIE
          She's lookin' for a husband.     'S why
          I dumped her.

                      CRIP
          She said she dumped you. She said
          you like baseball better'n you like
          girls.
                                                          61.

The boys laugh with him.

                      RONNIE
          Better'n bein' trapped here in Nina.

Ronnie broods out the window.

Lyn quizzes T-Bo:

                         LYN
          T-Bo!     What's a squeeze play?

                      T-BO
          A sacrifice bunt with a runner on
          third.

                      BUDDY
          But only one out.

                      CRIP
          And you gotta be a good bunter.

                      BUDDY
          Like Phil Rizzuto.

                      T-BO
          Yankees never shoulda let him go.

                      CAL
          Amen, brother.

                      BUDDY
          Here comes some more!

They look at the next Burma Shave signs.

                      THE BOYS
          The band for which/ The grandstand
          roots/ Is not made up/ Of substi-
          toots.

The boys all look at T-Bo.

EXT. STADIUM PARKING LOT -- DAY

A shiny red, white and blue bus pulls in.    On the side it
says "AMERICA'S SOUTH BANK".

The Braves get off the bus in clean white uniforms.    Coaches
and bat boys carry tons of gear.

Denis Gilbert grabs an empty-handed bat boy.

                      DENIS
          Get them sodas! The boys'll get
          thirsty.
                                                        62.

Bo and Pep join Denis.

                      PEP
          Gawd, it's hot. Sweat down my back's
          makin' butt gravy.

The Redbirds' bus drives up. Scoot walks up to meet them.
As each of them gets off, he admonishes them with a piece of
advice.

                      SCOOT
          Cal, when you're on first, take a
          bigger lead. Lyn, get under the
          ball.

                      DENIS
          Hey, boys, heard you got trouble
          makin' nine since Pinky Bellew quit!

Way Dell holds his nose.

                      WAY DELL
          That bus of yours is a outhouse on
          wheels!

                       DENIS
          And you diggin' in the chocolate box
          for a coach!

They all look at the bus as T-Bo gets off.

                      PEP
          He ain't s'pose to-- Whaddaya mean,
          letting--

                       BO
          T-Bo!   Get the hell over here!

T-Bo runs into the stadium with the Redbirds.
                      DENIS
          Go git him, Sarge.

                      BO
          Not in front of all these people.
          Shit!

Scoot corrals Ronnie.

                      SCOOT
          Where's Bellew?

                      RONNIE
          He'd rather train his huntin' dog.
                                                                 63.

                      SCOOT
          So you picked a new catcher?      Without
          telling me?

Ronnie doesn't answer.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          I'm either part of this team, or I'm
          not.

                         RONNIE
          I just--

                      SCOOT
          Am I coach of this team, or not?

                         RONNIE
          I'm sorry.     Okay? I'm sorry!    Geez.

EXT. STADIUM -- LATER

The game begins as the Redbirds, first to bat, hit well and
score on a sacrifice fly.

Then the Braves single on Ronnie's slow pitch.        Then Ronnie
walks another. Both runners score.

At the top of the second, Lyn Angell doubles for the Redbirds.

In the bottom of the inning, a Braves Batter flies to center
on a slow pitch; Bill misses it by a step.

The next batter whacks a line drive to second. Buddy can't
react quick enough, and it hits him. Crip fields it, but
his throw to first is off and the lead runner scores.

                      RONNIE
          Crip! Get your brain out of your
          pecker and on the game!
Scoot shouts encouragement from his chair, just beyond first
base.

From the stands, AD LIB: "Don't listen to niggers," "Keep
your fat lips shut," "Shouldn't play against coonass," etc.

Score is 1-3, Braves.

When the Redbirds are up, Cal, Andy and Crip hit singles in
quick succession.

Way Dell, the Braves' pitcher, throws his glove in disgust.

From the stands, CHATTER: "Hey-batter-hey-batter," etc.

The game continues. T-Bo comes to the plate.         He greets
AYPEE DUPUIS, Braves catcher--
                                                        64.

                        T-BO
          Hey, Aypee.

                        AYPEE
          Traitor.

Aypee goes into his squat.

                      AYPEE (CONT'D)
          Traitor run off to play with niggers.

T-Bo swings at the next pitch, misses.

The wind picks up, whipping grit in everyone's eyes. T-Bo
loses a ball when he can't see, and the Braves score again.

Ronnie is having a hard time keeping the glove in one piece.

A Braves batter wallops a triple to right, scoring a runner.

                      RONNIE
          Andy, you need some Wheaties?      Get
          going out there!

Scoot walks to the mound and calls the team in.

                      SCOOT
          Think about what I told you. Shuffle
          to get in position and throw on
          target. The next guy's right handed,
          so shift left.

                      T-BO
          Uh, Mr. Groshon?

Scoot turns to him.

                      T-BO (CONT'D)
          This guy's a contact hitter.    He
          goes opposite field.

                        SCOOT
          All right.    You heard the man.

Scoot turns to Crip.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          You pay attention to the game--

He turns to T-Bo--

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          And you ignore what they call you.
          Now let's play.

The boys disperse.    Scoot returns to his seat.
                                                             65.

The sky is getting dark.    The wind is steady now.

The next Brave hits a grounder to right, and Buddy fields it
nicely. Ronnie strikes out the remainder of the side.

Cal leads off with a double.    Andy slams a hard line drive,
breaking one of the bats.

                      RONNIE
          T-bo, mind the bat!    We only got two
          left.

Scoreboard reads 2-5, Braves.

It starts to sprinkle.

The Braves are up again.    T-Bo warns the Redbirds--

                      T-BO
          This one's a bunter.    Watch for it!

The Redbirds handle the bunt with ease.    T-Bo nods to Ronnie.

One of the Braves hits grounder to second.    Buddy grabs it,
tosses it to Lyn.

EXT. BLEACHERS -- DAY

Rain starts to drum on the bleachers.

Jack Doyle puts a shower cap over his fedora.       He moves to
behind home plate.

EXT. STADIUM -- DAY

Eddy Baril calls Denis Gilbert and Scoot to the plate.

                      EDDY
          Listen, this weather's getting bad.
                         DENIS
          Let's quit.     Let the Redbirds down
          easy.

                      SCOOT
          We came looking for a good game.     We
          can still play!

                      EDDY
          It's the sixth inning. How 'bout we
          all play to the bottom of this one
          and call it a game?

                      DENIS
          Don't matter. We'll still win.
                                                               66.

                         EDDY
          Scoot?

                      SCOOT
          We're fine with it.

The game resumes.   Cal singles.     Andy hits a line drive.

The rain gets heavier.

Then Crip hits a boomer to left. The Braves try to field it
in the rain, but can't. Cal and Andy score. Crip circles
the bases, tagging each carefully.

The score is tied, 5-5.

Denis Gilbert runs toward home plate, shouting--

                      DENIS
          Cormier didn't tag first!

The Braves' pitcher, Way Dell, agrees--

                         WAY DELL
          'At's right!     He missed it!

Scoot runs toward home plate again.

Eddy nods and signals to the scorekeeper.

The run comes off the board.

In the stands, Bo turns to Pep.

                      BO
          Another vic'try.       Tell Aypee to pack
          his bags.

On the field, the Braves gather their equipment.
Ronnie catches up with Eddy.

                         RONNIE
          Mr. Baril!     Be fair!

                      EDDY
          Son, it's pourin' rain! I'd like to
          get home before I drown!

Scoot arrives in time to push Ronnie away from Eddy Baril.

                      RONNIE
          I know Crip touched that base--

                         SCOOT
          Stop!
                                                          67.

                      EDDY
          Lodge your protest tomorrow!

                      SCOOT
          There's a bad blow coming.    Just go
          home!

EXT. STADIUM PARKING LOT -- DAY

The wind blows the rain harder now.

Scoot Groshon and Jack Doyle trot out at the same time.

                      JACK
          That boy's a hard case!

                      SCOOT
          Still thinks he knows everything.

                      JACK
          He's seventeen! Hah!     Good luck,
          Scoot!

INT. BUS -- DAY

The Redbirds get on the bus.

                      RONNIE
          Baril needs some goddamn glasses.

                        BUTCH
          Yeah.

                      BILL
          But what you gonna do?

                        RONNIE
          Protest!
                      LYN
          That'll do a lotta good.

                      ANDY
          Not worth getting worked up over.

                        RONNIE
          Yes it is!    It is.

He falls into a seat.

EXT. STADIUM PARKING LOT -- DAY

T-Bo catches up with his own father.

                      T-BO
          Did you see me play?
                                                        68.

                      BO
          What the hell were you doing?

                      T-BO
          I got to play!

                      BO
          You played like crap! No wonder
          Gilbert cut you. You're worthless!

                      T-BO
          They let me play!

Bo backhands his son, so hard it knocks his hat off.

                      BO
          Go ahead, play for 'em! Just be
          sure to play as shitty as you played
          today!

T-Bo stumbles after his hat.

Bo gets in his car and drives off in the rain.

INT. BUS -- DAY

The Redbirds watch the whole scene, silently. Then Buddy
puts the bus in gear and drives up alongside T-Bo.

                         BUDDY
          Get on, man!

                      T-BO
          No, 's awright!

                      CAL
          You're part of the team now!

They wave him in.   T-Bo gets on the bus.
                       T-BO
          Thanks.   Thanks, everybody.

Buddy closes the door and moves the bus out of the parking
lot.

Ronnie watches the boys as T-Bo walks to the rear of the
bus. They all call out encouragement, cork him on the arm,
or tap him on the butt with their gloves.

                      CAL
          I hope he's okay.

                      ANDY
          He loves baseball like we do.
                                                           69.

                      LYN
          Maybe more. He loves baseball more'n
          he loves hisself.

All are silent.

Eventually Ronnie trots to the front of the bus.

                      RONNIE
          Leave me off here!

                       BUDDY
          No, man!   You'll get soaked!

                        RONNIE
          Lemme off!

EXT. BUS -- DAY

Ronnie gets off the bus and is almost knocked off his feet
by a squall. The storm is becoming wilder.

The sky is almost black with clouds.   Ronnie struggles as
sheets of rain wash over him.

He goes from signpost to tree to power pole.     Until a
telephone pole falls over.

A piece of tarpaper narrowly misses his head.

He fights his way home.   If it weren't raining so hard, his
tears would be evident.

EXT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

Ronnie makes for the screen porch.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- DAY
Ronnie enters to find Babette fighting to replace the oilcloth
over the cigarettes.

The boxes are soaked.   They ooze brown water.

                      BABETTE
          Oh, Baby, help me! Make it stop!

Ronnie drops his glove and struggles with the cloth--

Izzy runs out of the house into the storm--

                      BABETTE (CONT'D)
          Izzy, come back!
                                                               70.

EXT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

Rain pelts Izzy's face. She shrieks with glee and dances in
the wet till the wind blows her down.

Ronnie runs after her.    He scoops her up.

                         RONNIE
          C'mon!     Let's go help Mama!

Izzy screams with excitement again.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- DAY

Ronnie brings his sister in and sets her down.      She runs
inside.

He picks up a box of cigarettes.    It falls apart from the
wet.

                      BABETTE
          Ain't no good! Everything the Le
          Blancs touch is cursed!

                      RONNIE
          Let's get inside!

                      BABETTE
          I can't leave! All I got's tied up
          here!

Ronnie takes her by the wrists and pulls her into the house.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

Ronnie and Babette enter.    He turns on a light.

Izzy runs from window to window, screaming--
                      ISABELLA
          It's a hurry cane! Wa-ha! A hurry-
          cane! The radio people named it
          Audrey!

                      RONNIE
          Where's Daddy?

                         BABETTE
          I don' know!

Ron fetches towels from the bathroom.

                      RONNIE
          Let's get dried off.     Izzy, settle
          down!

The lights go out.    Although it's day, it's dark.
                                                           71.

                         ISABELLA
          Ronnie!

Izzy runs to Ronnie for comfort.

Babette sobs into a dish towel.

Ronnie sinks into a chair and stares out at the huge storm
pounding outside.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- MORNING

The following morning, early. Eerie quiet.    Ronnie wakes up
in the chair, in his boxers, hair wild.

He rouses himself and does recon on the house, picking up
towels.

Water drips down the unfinished walls and pools in places on
the floor. He throws down the towels to mop up.

He looks in Izzy's room.    The bed is empty, sopping wet from
a leak in the ceiling.

In his parents' room, Babette is still asleep, with Izzy in
bed beside her.

EXT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

Ron, dressed, leaves the house. He sees his soaking-wet
glove and picks it up. Sets off on Izzy's little pink
Schwinn.

EXT. NINA -- DAY

The aftermath of the storm: A man bails water out of his
car.

                      RONNIE
          You seen my Daddy?

The man shakes his head.

A couple piles waterlogged furniture in their front yard.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          You seen Guy Le Blanc?

They don't even answer.

A group hitches a mule to move a downed tree.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          I'm lookin' for Guy Le Blanc, you
          seen him?

They all wave him off.
                                                          72.

He asks a man who's boarding up shop windows.

An old woman holding a tiny wet dog.

But he just rides on past two kids holding hands in the middle
of a wet street.

EXT. LOUISIANA SUGAR CANE MILL -- DAY

Ronnie rides up.

The sign outside reads "SHUT TILL MONDAY".

EXT. PINK BELLEW'S HOUSE -- DAY

Windows are blown out, part of the trim hangs down.

Pink flings open the door.

                       PINK
          What!

                      RONNIE
          You and your Mama okay?

                      PINK
          We just got to sleep!

                       RONNIE
          Sorry.   I 'uz just checking.

                      PINK
          I got my own problems now, okay?
          I'm s'pose to be the man of the house
          and the damn house is falling down!

                      RONNIE
          You see my Daddy, send him home?
                      PINK
          'Scuse me for not talking to people
          who ain't my friend.

Pink slams the door.

EXT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

The roof on Scoot's house is gone.

Ronnie rides up on the pink Schwinn. He leans the bike
against the front of the house, grabs his glove and knocks
on the door.

INT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

Wordlessly, Scoot opens the door to let Ronnie in.    Ronnie
looks around at the destruction.
                                                           73.

Ronnie is agitated, antsy. Scoot takes one of Ronnie's hands
and firmly plants a rag in it.

Ronnie nods and starts washing walls.

He's okay at first, but then becomes nervous and restive
again. He scrubs at the walls, skins his knuckles.

Turns to throw the rag in a bucket of water, misses.

Lashes out at the bucket with a foot, tips it over.

Tears well up in his eyes.

Ronnie slips in the water and falls, banging his throwing
arm.

He wads up in the fetal position on the floor, weeping.

Scoot watches all this.

                      SCOOT
          Let me help you up.

Ronnie pulls away from him.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Come on, son. Come out on the porch
          and let me have a look at it. C'mon.

Eventually Ronnie relents and Scoot tenderly helps him up.

Scoot ushers Ronnie out the door.

EXT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

They come out on the porch.

                        SCOOT
          Sit down.

They sit on the step.

Scoot looks at Ronnie's arm, elbow, wrist.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          You'll be bruised, but you'll heal.

                      RONNIE
          We lost our shot at the championship.

                      SCOOT
          Man, you worry about the wrong things.

Ronnie stiffens.
                                                          74.

                      RONNIE
          Like if the Dodgers are moving to
          California.

                      SCOOT
          You make light of it, but people
          died last night. The whole town of
          Cameron's just - gone. That team
          down in Perry, if they're still alive,
          they have no place to live.

                      RONNIE
          I didn't think...

                      SCOOT
          That's right, you didn't think.
          Damn. Don't you worry 'bout the
          Dodgers. They're goin' to California,
          all right.

                      RONNIE
          I know, I'm just...

He starts to choke up again.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          I'm so - I can't find my daddy!

Scoot puts a friendly arm around Ronnie - for a moment.

                      SCOOT
          Aw, child. He's probably okay.
          Storm was bad here, but nothing like
          down on the coast. Your mama all
          right?

                      RONNIE
          I guess. She...her and my daddy...
          my family's falling apart.
                      SCOOT
          Just a rough patch.

                      RONNIE
          No, it's...have you ever been married?

                      SCOOT
          Never found the one. There are some
          good ones, but some are just
          skaintchy.

                       RONNIE
          Skaintchy.

                      SCOOT
          You know what I'm talking about.
                      (MORE)
                                                       75.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Oh, yes, you do. I found one I
          thought was a good one but when I
          came home with this bad knee, she
          took off.

                      RONNIE
          My daddy has a job.

                      SCOOT
          Marriage is more than providing.
          It's taking care in other ways, too.

                      RONNIE
          Yeah. Daddy, he...anymore, he just
          gives up on everything.

                      SCOOT
          He had a hard time in the war.

                        RONNIE
          He told me.    About Pink's daddy.

                      SCOOT
          It was more than that.

                        RONNIE
          How so?

Scoot helps Ronnie up and they go back in the house.

INT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

Scoot resumes cleaning up the mess.

                      SCOOT
          I watched through the field glasses.
          One of the men in your daddy's outfit
          was gonna shoot a prisoner. When I
          got there, your daddy was yelling
          about the Geneva convention.

                        RONNIE
          My daddy?

Ronnie helps Scoot mop up the floor.

                      SCOOT
          Didn't work. Prisoner was begging
          for mercy and Mr. Bo shot him anyway.

                        RONNIE
          Bo?
                                                 76.

                      SCOOT
          Then he threatened to shoot your
          daddy. One man stopped him, but
          everybody else just stood there.

                       RONNIE
          Oh, crap. I know who everybody else
          is, don't I?

Scoot nods.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Then damn them!

                       SCOOT
          Now, son--

                      RONNIE
          There was a scout gonna be at the
          big game.

                       SCOOT
          Mm-hm.

                      RONNIE
          If I coulda won in front of that
          scout--

                      SCOOT
          All your troubles would be over.

                       RONNIE
          The pitcher's mound is the top of
          the world for me. And if I could
          play in the majors - God, I wanted
          that so bad.

                      SCOOT
          You think having a knuckler nobody
          can hit will get you women and money
          and drinking buddies? So you can
          boss people around? Break the rules
          and not do time?

                      RONNIE
          Beats bein' buried alive in a sugar
          mill! C'mon, didn't you want to
          play big league ball?

                       SCOOT
          The Negro League is as big as it
          gets for us.

                      RONNIE
          But Satchel-- and Jackie--
                                                          77.

                      SCOOT
          And boycotts, and death threats--
          Jackie loved baseball enough to
          forgive the game for how it treated
          him. I didn't have that in me.

                      RONNIE
          Then...why'd you coach us if you
          knew we wouldn't win?

                      SCOOT
          So you could learn what baseball has
          to teach.

                      RONNIE
          Well, all I know how to do is pitch.
          I don't know what else to do. And
          everything I've been doing is wrong -
          with the team, with my family, with
          you...

                      SCOOT
          Then make yourself proud of yourself.
          You can't control blind umpires, or
          bad hops, or a hurricane. All you
          can control is yourself. The others
          on your team - they respect you?

Ronnie shrugs, but avoids eye contact.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Guys in the big leagues'll be the
          first to tell you: you lose - and
          you will lose - false friends don't
          come around. And when your real
          friends are going through hard times,
          you help them out. Like now.

He waves his arm to indicate the hurricane destruction.
                       RONNIE
          What about you, then?   You need food
          or anything?

                      SCOOT
          I'm fine.

Ronnie gives Scoot the torn, wet glove.

                      RONNIE
          I brought this back. I'm sorry,
          it's in pretty bad shape.

                      SCOOT
          You're hard on equipment, but you're
          harder on people. I'll mend it,
          maybe you can use it some time.
                                                          78.

                      RONNIE
          Thanks. Scoot. How'd you get that
          name, 'Scoot'?

                      SCOOT
          Cool Papa Bell gave me that. We
          played for the Memphis Red Sox before
          I left for the war. We were workin'
          on base stealin' one day and he said,
          'Holman, you are as slow as a wet
          weekend. You got to scoot!'

                      RONNIE
          Well, Scoot. I gotta go. I got
          some mending of my own to do.

EXT. NINA -- DAY

Ronnie, on the pink bike, looks for his dad in a ditch.

He looks behind a roadhouse.

On the edges of the bayou.

At Dottie's Boarding House.

INT. AMERICAN LEGION -- DAY

Charlie Savoy is talking to Denis Gilbert when Ronnie enters.

                      CHARLIE
          Well, speak of the devil!

                      RONNIE
          Mr. Savoy, Coach Gilbert. I'm not
          gonna make any more trouble for you.

                      CHARLIE
          I spoke with my Regional Commander
          this morning. Storm washed a lot
          away.

                      RONNIE
          I'm just lookin' for my daddy.

                      DENIS
          Aw, he wants his daddy.   Well, Daddy
          ain't here!

                      CHARLIE
          And we got a chance to start fresh.

                      DENIS
          Charlie, what are you talkin' 'bout?
                                                         79.

                      CHARLIE
          You all, the Braves and Redbirds,
          you'll play once more for the
          championship.

                     DENIS
          No! We got through playoffs like
          always!

                      CHARLIE
          The other teams didn't make it.

                      RONNIE
          I...need to check with my guys.
          They say it's okay, we'll be there.

                      DENIS
          I thought you were on our side, Savoy.

                     CHARLIE
          I am. That scout still needs a look
          at Aypee.

                      RONNIE
          He's comin', then?

                      DENIS
          Lucky bastard Redbirds!

                      CHARLIE
          Game's a week from today, one o'clock,
          in Cecilia. Day after Independence
          Day. See you then.

                       RONNIE
          Yes, sir!   You will!

Ron nods and exits.
                      CHARLIE
          Fine young man, isn't he?

EXT. BRASSEUX' HOUSE -- DAY

Ronnie rides up on the bike.   T-Bo sits on the front step,
bouncing a baseball.

                       RONNIE
          Hey.   You made it home okay.

T-Bo shrugs.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          So. The thing is. The Legion isn't
          gonna have playoffs this year.
                                                         80.

                      T-BO
          Season's over, then.

                      RONNIE
          Except for the final game.

                      T-BO
          No quarterfinals?    Semi's?

                      RONNIE
          Nope. Going straight to the
          championship. And it's us, the
          Redbirds, 'gainst the Braves.

T-Bo is silent.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          T-Bo, that scout's comin'. I really
          wanna play.

                      T-BO
          I let you down.

                      RONNIE
          We'll practice, you and me.

Ronnie holds out his hand for the ball, and T-Bo tosses it.

                      T-BO
          Get Pink Bellew.

Ronnie throws it back.

                      RONNIE
          We'll get the signals down to where
          you know what I'm thinking.

T-Bo returns the ball, and Ronnie backs up.
                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          It's trust. You gotta trust when I
          give you the nod on curveball, it's
          gonna be--

Ronnie tosses harder now--

                         RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Right there.     You gotta trust.

T-Bo comes into the yard and tosses the ball back.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          If we work as a unit, we can beat
          'em. Slider--

He throws a slider.   It lands in the wet grass and T-Bo scoops
it.
                                                          81.

                      T-BO
          Nothin' make me happer'n beatin'
          'em.

He tosses it back, then pulls at his sleeve, pats his right
knee, gives two fingers down.

                      T-BO (CONT'D)
          Bunch of dickwads. All of 'em.

Ronnie pitches.

                      RONNIE
          Yeah, but after we beat 'em, you
          hafta go home.

                      T-BO
          You know, Papa'll try to make us
          lose.

T-Bo catches, throws it back, squats for another catch.

                      RONNIE
          I know he hates my Daddy.

                      T-BO
          Pep Dupuis said if that scout signs
          Aypee, my Papa'll be mayor.

                      RONNIE
          Wow. So you're set for life. But I
          gotta get that scout to see me, too.
          Or I got no future at all.

Ronnie pitches again.   T-Bo catches, walks the ball back.

                      T-BO
          Well, I piss off Papa, I won't have
          a life here, either.
T-Bo hands the ball to Ronnie, returns to catch.

Ronnie winds up and throws.

                      T-BO (CONT'D)
          Which might not be so bad.

T-Bo smiles, and catches the ball.

EXT. AMERICA'S SOUTH BANK -- DAY

A line of customers extends down the sidewalk.

INT. BO'S OFFICE -- DAY

Denis is with Bo.
                                                 82.

                      DENIS
          Baseball season's been cut short,
          and the top two teams gonna play.
          Braves and Redbirds.

Bo pours himself a bourbon.

                      BO
          'S a load of crap.

                      DENIS
          A week from today.

T-Bo appears at the door to Bo's office.

                      BO
          Get 'em to forfeit again.

                       DENIS
          Can't.   That scout's comin'.

                      BO
          You are shittin' me now.

                      DENIS
          If he's gonna see Aypee, we hafta
          play a actual game.

                      BO
          We almost lost the last one 'cause
          you're not doing your job!

                      DENIS
          I'm not--?! You're startin' to piss
          me off, Brasseux!

Denis storms out past T-Bo.    T-Bo enters.

                      T-BO
          Why are you like this?    Why can't
          you ever just be nice?

                      BO
          You thank your lucky stars I'm not
          like my old man. I had to be best
          at everything just to get him to say
          good morning.

                       T-BO
          So just run for mayor and leave the
          Redbirds be.

                      BO
          Kid, here's life in a shot glass: at
          your age, you think you can do
          anything.
                      (MORE)
                                                           83.

                      BO (CONT'D)
          Then you find out you're human. And
          puny. And you'll do whatever it
          takes to keep the bastards from
          stomping on you.

                         T-BO
          It's a game!

                      BO
          Being a human being ain't enough.    I
          crush my competition. Fight this
          war on all fronts.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

The PHONE RINGS, one long, one short.    Babette enters and
answers the phone.

                      BABETTE
          Hello? Oh. Hello, Bo. Yes, what a
          nice surprise. Oh, I'd love to come
          see you. No, Guy's not here. I'll
          come by myself.

EXT. NINA -- DAY

Ronnie, on the pink bike, visits his teammates.

He helps Buddy and Vernon Huval patch their metal roof.

He talks to the Magee brothers.   They jump up and down.

He calls in at the Cecilia Baptist Church, where Cal King
and Ronnie change the marquee to read "THE STORY OF NOAH".

He visits Lyn Angell and his mother.    Lyn nods and grins.

Ronnie helps Andy Guidry pick up tree limbs.
                      RONNIE
          You wanna play?

                         ANDY
          Heck, yeah!

INT. BO'S OFFICE -- DAY

Bo rises when Babette comes in.

                         BO
          Babette.

                      BABETTE
          You and your family get through the
          storm okay?
                                                          84.

                        BO
            Family's fine. Looks like you made
            it through, too. Sit, sit!

She sits.   He closes the door.

Then he comes to stand behind her. Put his hands on her
shoulders, looks down her neckline.

                        BO (CONT'D)
            It's about the loan.

She tries to look up at him.

                        BO (CONT'D)
            We've...known each other a long time,
            so I'm not gonna beat around the
            bush.

                        BABETTE
            You're scarin' me.

                        BO
            We have to call the loan.

                        BABETTE
            Aw, Sugar, not right now.   We don't,
            we can't--

                        BO
            You've got twenty four hundred dollars
            in savings.

                        BABETTE
            No.

                        BO
            No, what?
                        BABETTE
            No. I invested it in a business and--
            well, the hurricane ruined my
            inventory. I mean, what are the
            chances? Bo, you can't...

EXT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

Ronnie and Izzy dump the last of the cigarettes in a pile at
the rear of the yard.

Izzy scrapes them out of a wheelbarrow.

Ronnie picks up a shovel and starts digging a hole.

Babette drives into the yard, gets out, storms over.
                                                             85.

                         ISABELLA
          Maaa-ma!

                      BABETTE
          What do you think you're doing?

                      RONNIE
          I thought I'd bury these.

                      BABETTE
          You'll need a damn big hole!       Why
          bother, anyway!

She takes the shovel from him and jabs at the cigarettes.

                      BABETTE (CONT'D)
          The Le Blancs just leave their messes
          right out there for folk to see!
          The car, the house, the cig--

She chops at the cigarettes with the shovel, then bursts
into tears again.

Guy drives the Houma Sugar truck into the yard.       Gets out.

                      BABETTE (CONT'D)
          And here's the biggest mess of all!

Ronnie rushes to hug his father.

                         RONNIE
          Daddy!

Then Ronnie pulls up short.       Guy's a mud-covered, drunken
mess.

                      GUY
          Hey, y'all doin' good?
                      BABETTE
          Where the hell you been!

                      GUY
          Piled sandbags all night. Salt
          water'll wreck a cane crop.

                      BABETTE
          I can't take this any more!

She heads for the house, followed by Guy and the offspring.

                         GUY
          Wha'd I do?

She goes in the house.
                                                        86.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

Guy comes in after her.

                      GUY
          I was tryin' to save my job!

                      BABETTE
          What about your family?     What about
          me?

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- DAY

Ronnie stays on the screen porch and motions for Izzy to do
the same.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

Guy and Babette continue to fight.    Guy mumbles.

                       BABETTE
          What?   What did you say?

Guy sits at the kitchen table.

                      GUY
          I said, I shoulda given you up to Bo
          when he wanted you!

                      BABETTE
          If you'd'a done that, I'd have a
          decent house, a nice car and a husband
          comes home at night! Why didn't
          you?

                      GUY
          'Cause I wanted to win, just oncet.

                      BABETTE
          You married me to beat him?     Not
          'cause you loved me?

                      GUY
          That ain't it. I couldn't see livin'
          with anyone but you, so help me God.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- DAY

Ronnie and Izzy listen to the argument.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- DAY

Babette wipes her tears with a dish towel.

                      BABETTE
          Well, you sure don't act like it.
                                                          87.

                      GUY
          It ain't you I hate.

                      BABETTE
          And anyway, Bo's got us in a real
          mess.

INT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

Scoot is mending Ronnie's glove when he hears Eraste call
from outside.

                      ERASTE (O.S.)
          Groshon!

Scoot looks out a window to see Eraste and Denis advancing
with baseball bats.

EXT. SCOOT GROSHON'S HOUSE -- DAY

The two men start to trash Scoot's outside kitchen.

They overturn the wash tub, then the stove.

They scatter pots and pans.

Scoot appears in the doorway.    He holds the unbroken kerosene
bomb.

                      SCOOT
          This what you lookin' for?

                      ERASTE
          Ain't lookin' for nothin'.

                      DENIS
          We just want to talk, is all.

                      SCOOT
          You come to colored town with bats
          in your hands to talk.

                      DENIS
          Come out here before we come in and
          mess up your other knee, nigger!

Scoot comes out on the porch.

                      SCOOT
          Mr. Denis, I never raised a hand to
          you.

                      ERASTE
          You been tryin' to get back at us.
                                                           88.

                      SCOOT
          How c'n I do that?   Me bein' a lowly
          nigger.

                      DENIS
          You put the Redbirds back on the
          field.

                      ERASTE
          Denis and I, we take that as seriously
          as if you hit us.

                      SCOOT
          I was helping a group of young men.

Eraste and Denis advance to the porch.

                      DENIS
          That was your mistake.

Eraste and Denis lift their bats. Scoot ducks. Eraste
misses, but Denis's bat glances off Scoot's cheek. He falls.

The two raise their bats again.

Then they hear the CHICK-CHICK of a shotgun, and freeze.

                      SCOOT
          Remember where you are.

Eraste and Denis turn. Franklin and Marcel are there, with
the machete and shotgun.

                      MARCEL
          Hey la bas? Nice to see you again.
          Just come out to take a leak?

                      FRANKLIN
          White men disappear out here.    Never
          seen again.

                      MARCEL
          Put down the bats.

Eraste and Denis drop the bats.    The two black men pick them
up.

Franklin steps to Eraste's car. He gives a swift, powerful
swing at the windshield. It shatters.

                      DENIS
          I'll kill you niggers!    I'll kill
          all of you!
                                                           89.

                      SCOOT
          You the one makin' the mistake, Mr.
          Denis. You think everybody's afraid
          of you.

                      DENIS
          You lose that game, or else!

Franklin and Marcel laugh, and toss the bats into the car.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- EVENING

Ronnie reclines on the cot, tossing and catching a ball.

Izzy catches fireflies in the yard.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

Guy questions Babette.

                      GUY
          You didn't encourage him, did you?

                      BABETTE
          Don't you dare think that, Guy Le
          Blanc! He said he couldn't even
          give us two weeks and I started cryin'--

                      GUY
          You cried at the bank!

                      BABETTE
          I was distressed! And I thought it
          might help!

                      GUY
          Reckon it didn't!

                      BABETTE
          That heartless bastard said he needs
          the money to help flood victims.
          Hell! Ain't I a flood victim?

EXT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

Alonzo drives up and parks.

Izzy runs for the house.

                         ISABELLA
          Daaaa-dee!

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

Guy looks out the door.
                                                          90.

                        GUY
          Godamighty!    What?

Izzy bangs in.

                      ISABELLA
          Mr. Castille's here!

Alonzo enters behind her.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- EVENING

Izzy runs back out past Ronnie.

                      ISABELLA
          Mr. Castille's here.

Ronnie continues to toss the ball.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

Alonzo takes a glass of iced tea from Babette.    They sit at
the table with Guy.

                      ALONZO
          I don't mean to pry, but, well, I
          know you're in a fix right now.

                      BABETTE
          Whatever do you mean?     We're fine.

                      ALONZO
          Now, Babette. Ain't no secrets in
          this town.

                      BABETTE
          Wha'd I tellya! Our private business
          on display for everyone to see and
          enjoy.
                      ALONZO
          I think I can help.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- DAY

Ronnie stops tossing the ball.    Listens.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

Alonzo continues his offer to Babette and Guy.

                      ALONZO
          Anyways, I can loan you the money.

                      GUY
          We'd be forever payin' it back.
                                                   91.

                      ALONZO
          I got a plan for that, too.    I got a
          full-time job for Ronnie.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- EVENING

Ronnie sits up.

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

Babette and Guy hear Alonzo's offer.

                      BABETTE
          Oh, I don't know--

                      GUY
          Aw, thanks, Alonzo.    That's--

                      ALONZO
          He can start Monday.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- EVENING

Ronnie lunges for the door--

INT. LE BLANC HOUSE -- EVENING

Ronnie shoots in--

                      RONNIE
          Stop! Before you sell me off like a
          pygmy goat, how' bout you ask me?
          None of this is my fault, y'know!

                      GUY
          Your first obligation's to your
          family.

Babette jumps up, ties on an apron.
                      BABETTE
          Listen to you! You abandon us during
          the storm, then come home like 'it's
          mah plantation and y'all my slaves!'

                      RONNIE
          Daddy, I can't start a full-time
          job!

                      GUY
          Lots of kids quit school to help
          out.

                      RONNIE
          The Redbirds play the Braves on
          Friday!
                                                  92.

                      GUY
          Son, don't keep--

                      RONNIE
          For the championship! Daddy! A
          week from Monday, I'm all yours!

                      GUY
          You are mine!

                      RONNIE
          I ain't your slave!

                      GUY
          I mean,-- Bo Brasseux dated your
          Mama before she run off with me--

                      BABETTE
          I got pregnant--

                      GUY
          And I married her! Bo's been after
          me and mine ever since! He'll stop
          you again!

                      RONNIE
          By sending his man to keep me out of
          the game!

Alonzo shakes his head.

                      ALONZO
          I'm stickin' my neck out, helpin'
          you.

                      GUY
          When Bo wanted to shoot me in Italy,
          Alonzo saved my life. We owe him.
                      RONNIE
          Maybe we do! But! I'm not gonna
          let it ruin my life like you have!

                      GUY
          You ungrateful shit!

                      RONNIE
          You got a raw deal at the Liri River.
          And it makes you sad. I get that.
          And I forgive you for it.

Guy's head snaps toward Ronnie.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          But you gave up on everything else,
          too. On this house, on us, on
          yourself.
                                                         93.

Guy is speechless.

                       RONNIE (CONT'D)
           And you expect me to give up on
           everything, too. Well, before I do,
           I just want one try at the majors.

                       GUY
           You're breakin' your own heart!   You
           won't win!

                        BABETTE
           Guy!

Guy argues with Babette now.

                       GUY
           He won't! And a week's work could
           go a ways to paying Alonzo back!

                        BABETTE
           One week!

                       GUY
           It's easier to go on dreaming than
           to face the truth, isn't it?

                        RONNIE
           Stop!

They do.

                       RONNIE (CONT'D)
           Daddy, I may not win. But I've gotta
           play. Please, I just want to play
           this one time!

Guy is not impressed.
                       RONNIE (CONT'D)
           Daddy? Daddy, if I go to work full
           time I won't even graduate. Please!
           Let me play this game.

Guy looks at Alonzo.    Alonzo nods.

                       GUY
           What the hell.

INT. LOUISIANA SUGAR CANE MILL -- DAY

The sign reads "HOUMA SUGAR JULY 1957 5 DAYS WITHOUT A
HURRICANE".

The STEAM WHISTLE blows.

Ronnie walks briskly through the mill, greeting the boys.
                                                         94.

Butch and Bill are putting their footprints in freshly poured
concrete. They each waggle a bare, cement-coated foot at
Ronnie.

Crip and Cal are in the machine shop, sharpening cane-cutting
blades.

                          RONNIE
             Hey!   See you tomorrow!

They wave.

Lyn is climbing out of a hopper, carrying soda pop bottles.
He nods at Ronnie.

Ronnie looks up, sees Alonzo.

                         ALONZO
             Have a good holiday!

                         RONNIE
             I'll be here Monday!

                         ALONZO
             Ten P. M. shift!

Ronnie grimaces, but nods.

He passes on, sees Pink set down a load of parts.   They do
not speak.

Ronnie goes on to the loading dock.

EXT. SUGAR MILL LOADING AREA -- DAY

Guy pulls up in the Houma Sugar truck.

                          GUY
             Hop in.
Ronnie descends from the dock, gets in.

Guy drives off the lot.

INT. TRUCK -- DAY

On the radio, the Cardinals are playing the Cubs.

                         RONNIE
             What's the score?

                         GUY
             One-nothing, Cards. Stan the Man
             had a nice hit. You got practice
             today?
                                                        95.

                      RONNIE
          We had it Sunday and Tuesday.    We'll
          practice tomorrow.

                      GUY
          Tomorrow's the Fourth of July.

                      RONNIE
          Something tells me we need it, this
          time. That makes today my last day
          of freedom.

He is silent for a time, then:

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Daddy? Didn't you tell anyone that
          Mr. Brasseux shot that prisoner?

                      GUY
          Told our colonel. Scoot told his.
          But Bo turned it around, said me and
          Scoot shot him.

                      RONNIE
          But that's a lie--

INT. AMERICAN LEGION -- DAY

The photo of soldiers in the trophy case looms before Guy
and Ronnie.

                      GUY
          Bo made up a story that he took out
          that pillbox. Got his medal and
          came home a hero.

He points to the photo.

                      GUY (CONT'D)
          He promised good things to people
          who went along. And bad things to
          people who didn't.

Charlie walks up.

                      GUY (CONT'D)
          'S all in the past now.

                      CHARLIE
          We have much to look forward to.
          Can I interest you gentlemen in some
          liquid refreshment?

                     GUY
          I...well. I'll take a Dr. Pepper,
          thank you.
                                                          96.

                       RONNIE
          Yeah.

                      GUY
          Then we gotta go home and hang a
          door on your mother's bedroom.

Ronnie puts his arm around Guy.

EXT. VACANT FIELD -- DAY

Scoot coaches the boys at practice.

                     SCOOT
          All right. In a line for the pepper
          drill! Andy, you're up first.

The boys form a semicircle around the infield.    Andy goes to
the plate.

                      BUTCH
          This is dumb.

                      BILL
          I hate this part.

                      CAL
          Yeah, but I gotta say, Scoot's taught
          us a lot.

                       ANDY
          'S'true.   Ain't his fault we lost.

                      LYN
          You worried about this game?

                      ANDY
          Worried about it?     I ain't worried
          about it.
He tosses a ball into the air and hits it--

Bill catches it and throws it back to him--

                      ANDY (CONT'D)
          My dad finally gave me a day off!

He hits the ball again.

The boys are practicing in earnest. Butch catches the ball,
throws it to the next batter, Buddy.

                       BUDDY
          My Pa played in the championship
          game in '37.
                                                  97.

                       CRIP
           With those guys, went to Milwaukee?

                         BUDDY
           It's like--

He hits the ball--

                       BUDDY (CONT'D)
           Bein' in his shoes.

Cal catches the ball, throws it back.

                       CAL
           It's like David and Goliath.

Buddy hits again, Cal catches again.

                       CAL (CONT'D)
           With baseballs instead of rocks.

                       BUTCH
           We never played a championship game!

                       BILL
           We're excited!

Cal throws to Crip, who hits next.

                       LYN
           Oh, 'cause you think you'll wake up
           the next day and your lives will be
           all different?

                       CRIP
           Well, I tell ya--

He throws the ball in the air and hits it--
                       CRIP (CONT'D)
           If I c'n get a homer this game,
           Cherie's gonna be like jelly in my
           hands. All trembly and sticky sweet.

Lyn calls from batting practice--

                         LYN
           Coach!    I gotta go.

                       CRIP
           Me, too. I'm going to Breaux for
           some "fireworks."

                       SCOOT
           Gather 'round, gather 'round.

They do.
                                                        98.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          Let me give you some things: They'll
          try to yank you off base, then tag
          you with the ball. If the ball has
          something on it, wipe it off or give
          it to the ump. And watch when they
          slide into base cleats high.

                      LYN
          They'll try it once with me.

                      BUDDY
          We c'n give as good as we get.

                      SCOOT
          Ah-ah-ah! We play like gentlemen.
          And at the end of the day, we're
          proud of ourselves. Now. See you
          all at the field tomorrow.

The boys begin to leave, AD LIB "See ya," "Have fun," "Happy
Fourth of July," etc.

Ronnie jogs over to Scoot. They watch the boys disperse.
Ronnie holds up the mended glove.

                      RONNIE
          Thanks for fixing this.

                      SCOOT
          I just put it back together, gave it
          another chance.

                      RONNIE
          But what's the smell?

                      SCOOT
          Bacon grease. It's all I had.
                      RONNIE
          Wha'd you do to yourself?

                      SCOOT
          Somebody doesn't want you to play.

                       RONNIE
          Geez!   Scoot, I never--

                      SCOOT
          Make it worth my while.    Play anyway.

                      RONNIE
          Be a good sport? When they done--

                      SCOOT
          It's a game you'll never forget.
          Remember the good things about it.
                                                           99.

                      RONNIE
          I wish you could sit with us.

Scoot shakes his head.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Any more advice, then?

                      SCOOT
          If they have men on first or second,
          you move your feet to pick 'em off.

Scoot extends his hand for Ronnie to shake.

                      SCOOT (CONT'D)
          And relax and have fun.

Ronnie hesitates, embraces him quickly.

Scoot gives Ronnie a pat, then turns and disappears into the
gathering twilight.

EXT. BRASSEUX' HOUSE -- EVENING

Bo smokes a cigar on the front porch as Alonzo comes up the
steps.

                      BO
          'Lonzo, I need you to find that scout
          tonight.

He takes a $100 bill from his pocket and hands it to Alonzo.

                      BO (CONT'D)
          Give him this and tell him there's
          another one when he signs Aypee.

                      ALONZO
          Well, Sarge, the thing is, I'm busy
          tonight.

                      BO
          What's so important you'd take a
          chance on makin' me mad?

Alonzo stuffs the bill back in Bo's shirt pocket.

                      ALONZO
          Independence Day.

He pats the pocket, then turns and walks down the steps.

INT. LE BLANC SCREEN PORCH -- NIGHT

Ronnie sits on the steps.   Isabella comes out and sits beside
him.
                                                       100.

                      ISABELLA
          Ronnie! Do you think Daddy'd take
          us to Disneyland?

                      RONNIE
          I don't think it's in the cards,
          Sweet Pea. Sorry.

                         ISABELLA
          'S okay.     Daddy's better now.

                         RONNIE
          Yeah.

                         ISABELLA
          Yeah.

They listen to the frogs and crickets.

                      ISABELLA (CONT'D)
          So...will you go away right after
          the game?

                         RONNIE
          No.     Prob'ly won't even happen.

                      ISABELLA
          You're gonna be a baseball player, I
          know.

She starts to cry.

                      RONNIE
          Naw, come on.

                      ISABELLA
          I'm gonna miss you so much!

                      RONNIE
          Izzy, it's a long shot. Hey. No
          matter what...I'm your big brother.

EXT. BUS -- DAY

Butch and Bill change the letters on the side of the bus,
then board.

INT. BUS -- DAY

Vernon Huval sits in the driver's seat instead of Buddy.    He
wears a clean white shirt.

                         ANDY
          Woo hoo!     Must of been laundry day!
                                                              101.

                      VERNON
          You boys take a lesson.         I'm meetin'
          my date at the game.

The boys AD LIB catcalls and whistles.

                      CRIP
          Who's the lucky lady?

Vernon looks at Lyn.   Lyn cringes.

                         LYN
          My Ma.

                         BILL
          Wow.

                      LYN
          But you listen to me! You lay a
          finger on her, and I'll kill you!

                      VERNON
          Whoa! Whoa. I intend to treat your
          mother like the goddess she is.

More catcalls from the boys.

                      VERNON (CONT'D)
          All right, let's hear it!

                      THE BOYS
          Sun so hot my blood will boil,/ Rub
          my head with crankcase oil...

Buddy sits next to Ronnie, who stares out the window.

                         BUDDY
          T-Bo comin'?
Ronnie doesn't answer.    Buddy elbows him, and he jumps.

                         RONNIE
          What!

T-Bo runs up to the bus.       Gets on.   Nods to everyone.

EXT. BUS -- DAY

The bus pulls out of Huval's yard.        The side of it reads
"PRIM AS TARTS".

EXT. STADIUM PARKING LOT -- DAY

The whole region's turning out for the game.        Spectators
bring plaid coolers and picnic lunches.

A man sells scorecards.
                                                       102.

From inside the stadium comes MUSIC from a marching band.

The Redbirds' bus stops, and the boys exit and scramble into
the stadium.

Ronnie sees Bo and they stare at each other for a long time.

                      BO
          Gonna lose this game.

Ronnie starts around him.

                      BO (CONT'D)
          You and Big Black Sambo gonna lose!

EXT. STADIUM -- DAY

Babette, Guy and Isabella join Regina Bellew in the bleachers.
Alonzo comes to sit with Guy. They shake hands.

Pink sits a distance away.

EXT. STADIUM -- MOMENTS LATER

Scoot greets the Redbirds.

Charlie Savoy counts the number of Redbirds and checks to
make sure they have equipment. And a coach.

                      CHARLIE
          They flipped a coin.       You're the
          home team today.

                         SCOOT
          We're ready.

The marching band plays "DIXIE" and "GIVE ME LOUISIANA".

Then everyone stands and they play "THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER".
Everyone sings.

A sweaty Charlie Savoy steps to a microphone behind home
plate.

                         CHARLIE
          Test, test.     Ladies and Gentlemen--

CHEERS from the crowd.

                      CHARLIE (CONT'D)
          I wanna rec'nize former mayor Pep
          Dupuis, and Mr. Bo Brasseux, president
          of America's South Bank. Give 'em a
          great big hand.

Bo and Pep stand and wave.       Too long.
                                                       103.

                      CHARLIE (CONT'D)
          Since 1925, young men have played
          American Legion baseball. They learn
          sportsmanship, discipline and
          teamwork.

Ronnie, hands on knees, takes several deep breaths in the
steaming heat.

                      CHARLIE (CONT'D)
          Y'all been through a lot in the past
          week, and the Legion is proud to
          bring you this game. Here's Mayor
          Junior Sain to throw out the first
          pitch.

JUNIOR SAIN, on the mound, throws a weak girlie pitch that
doesn't make it halfway to the plate. T-Bo fetches it.

                        CHARLIE (CONT'D)
          Play ball!

Charlie drags the mike away.

The Announcer begins.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
          Tired of blowouts and recaps? Get a
          set of Fisk tires from Atlas Tire in
          Lafayette, where it's 'time to re-
          tire.' Now for today's lineup.

Scoot hauls his chair to the end of the first base line.

The crowd AD LIBS "Shouldn't let him on the field" "Coaching
white boys" "Where's their pride," etc.

Eraste comes to join Pep and Bo.
                      ERASTE
          Your boys shouldn't have to play
          against Coach Sambo, there.

                      BO
          I thought you were gonna teach him a
          lesson.

Eraste takes out his flask and drinks.

Vernon Huval sits with a quiet, plain woman.

People mill about, talking to friends.

A vendor sells popcorn and fans-on-a-stick.

Nuns and priests sit together, a mass of black habits and
cassocks.
                                                         104.

Cherie Landry struts in, draped over the arm of a muscular
stud with a buzz cut. Crip sees her.

From out of hiding, Jack Doyle peers around the concession
stand, toothpick in his mouth.

Ronnie starts the game by hitting three of the Braves' batters
in succession. One of them comes home on a short-hop bunt.

Then Ronnie throws a wild pitch that hits Eddy Baril.   T-Bo
snatches it, tosses to Lyn and gets the batter out.

Scoot walks to the mound.

                      SCOOT
          You wanna tell me what's going on?

                      RONNIE
          I'm shakin' and I can't stop it.

                         SCOOT
          It's nerves.     Take a deep breath.

                      RONNIE
          I heard of a thing called Dead Arm.

                      SCOOT
          Your arm is not dead. Now, you can
          do this. I've seen you.

Denis Gilbert yells at them.

                      DENIS
          Get on with it!

                       SCOOT
          Cool out.   You're a good pitcher.

Scoot strolls back to his chair on the base line.
                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
          For traditional, Southern melt-in-
          your-mouth homemade biscuits, it's
          White Lily Flour.

The next Brave hits a fly to Butch.    Ronnie gets his rhythm
and strikes two out.

At the end of the first it's 1-0.

The game goes on: Aypee gets on, then T-Bo fumbles a ball
and Aypee steals second.

Way Dell, the Braves' next batter, cranks one to short, but
Crip's throw to Cal is wide. When Aypee scores, he crashes
into T-Bo at home plate.
                                                         105.

The crowd cheers.

Lyn gets a base hit.    Cal strikes out.

Andy pops two balls foul, but gets his own base hit.

Crip hits a pop fly straight up.    Aypee catches it with ease.

T-Bo gets to a full count and strikes out.

The crowd roars.    The score is 2-0, Braves.

Jack Doyle hangs on the fence near Scoot's chair.

In the third inning, there are Braves on first and second.
The next batter flies to left; Bill fields it but the Redbirds
miss a double play. The Braves score again.

The Redbirds head for the dugout.

                      RONNIE
          Infield? C'mon! You're playing
          like stooges out there.

                      LYN
          Us? Who threw the wild pitch, never
          mind dusted three?

                      RONNIE
          Crip, you played better ball when we
          were ten!

                      CRIP
          Cherie's out there with some guy!

                      RONNIE
          Well, I'm sorry. But she's skaintchy.

Butch and Bill elbow each other and snicker.
                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          And T-Bo, by God, play. Play!

                        T-BO
          I am, Ron.    Best I know how.

Eddy Baril sticks his head in.

                      EDDY
          Come on, boys.

                      RONNIE
          Lyn, you're up.

Lyn goes out to bat.
                                                          106.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          And don't crowd the plate! Take it
          slow!

Lyn strikes out.   Cal does the same.

Scoot asks to see the ball.    It's scuffed.   He asks Eddy
Baril for another.

Andy gets a base hit.    Crip goes up next.

A solid SMACK of bat on ball. Crip's banged one just fair
to the end of the first base line. Andy scores, then Crip.

But the bat is broken.

T-Bo misses three easy pitches and strikes out.

Scoreboard reads 3-2, Braves.

                      ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
          Don't forget, the concession stand
          is open!

It sprinkles for a moment, and people panic. They AD LIB
"Scared me" "It's over, it's okay" "Yeah, but still".

Jack Doyle moves to the Braves side, not far from Bo Brasseux.

                      BO
          Watch now, Pep. Redbirds are gonna
          lose. It's in the breeding.

The game goes on: In the fifth inning, the Braves get two
on and Way Dell comes to bat again. He obliterates the plate
with dirt and sneers at T-Bo.

                      WAY DELL
          Hey, traitor! How's it feel now,
          playin' for a losin' team?

Ronnie coils and uncoils in effortless motion.

But Way Dell connects - and when he throws the bat away, it
slams T-Bo in the chest. T-Bo rises and chases after him.

Buddy fields the ball and throws to home, but there's no one
there. All three Braves score.

The score is 6-2, Braves.    As they change sides--

                        RONNIE
          T-Bo!    Where were you, damn it!

                      SCOOT
          LeBlanc, watch your mouth!
                                                         107.

                      RONNIE
          We're beating ourselves!    We're
          beating ourselves.

And he sits on the far end of the dugout bench.

In the bottom of the sixth, Andy gets on and Crip hits, but
both are caught by a 6-4-3 and are out.

T-Bo swings for all he's worth, but fans the air and the
side is retired.

Top of the seventh: Ronnie picks off a Brave at first who
took too long a lead. But a runner advances to third, and
when T-Bo fluffs another catch and goes to the backstop to
chase it, the runner scores.

At the stretch, it's 7-2, Braves.    The teams head back to
their dugouts.

Jack Doyle moves to behind the Redbirds' dugout.

In the dugout, Ronnie pins T-Bo against a wall.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          What're you doing to us? Come on!
          You stink!

                        LYN
          Let him go!

Ronnie does.

                      T-BO
          Says Redbirds on this jersey.    I
          play for you.

                      RONNIE
          You're fumbling pitches, you're off
          the plate--

                      T-BO
          We haven't practiced much, but I'm
          tryin'!

                      RONNIE
          You get out there and play your best!

                      T-BO
          The harder I try, the worse I get.

                      RONNIE
          You're makin' me look like an idiot!

Half of the boys AD LIB "Cool off, Ronnie" "It's baseball"
"You ain't so hot yourself," etc.
                                                          108.

The other half AD LIB "Hasn't changed at all" "Dumbass still
the way he was" "Bastard stuck on himself," etc.

Scoot appears.

                       SCOOT
          Ronnie!   What have I told you?

                      RONNIE
          He's playing like he wants us to
          lose!

T-Bo confronts Ronnie--

                      T-BO
          That's not fair! After all I gave
          up to be on this team. My father
          will never--. And you're just like
          him! All you want is to be somebody
          and to hell with everybody else!

T-Bo appeals to the team--

                      T-BO (CONT'D)
          I wanted to play with a good team.
          But I've lost my Papa, I've lost my
          friends, I've lost everything. And
          I don't know if I can keep on.

It's quiet in the dugout.

Ronnie stands still and pale.

A voice comes from the end of the dugout.    It's Pink.

                      PINK
          Looks like y'all need a catcher.
          Here I am!
                       RONNIE
          Scoot?

                      SCOOT
          You all have to decide this one.

The boys look at each other.

                      BILL
          You're the pitcher, Ronnie.

                      BUTCH
          You gotta work with him.

Eddy Baril pokes his head in again.

                      EDDY
          Is there a problem?   Let's get goin'.
                                                         109.

Crip fends him off.

                      CRIP
          Catcher's heat stroked.    He'll be
          okay.

Eddy nods and leaves.

Outside, the crowd is getting hot and impatient.

In the dugout, the boys wait for an answer too.

                      CAL
          What are you gonna do?

Ronnie regards Pink.    The agony of the decision shows on
Ronnie's face.

                        RONNIE
          Pink...

Pink starts to enter the dugout.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Pink, we got it taken care of.

Pink halts.

                      PINK
          You're gonna miss me.

Pink exits.

There's a collective sigh of relief.

                        T-BO
          Thanks.

                       RONNIE
          T-Bo, I'm so sorry, man.     I wanted
          this so bad.

                        T-BO
          'S okay.

                      RONNIE
          No, I ain't proud of myself right
          now and I want to fix that. You can
          do it. I know you can. We'll all
          help you. Right?

The boys look at him.

                        THE BOYS
          Yeah!

The boys cheer again and take the field.
                                                         110.

Scoot claps Ronnie on the shoulder.

Jack Doyle shifts his toothpick from side to side.

Crowd AD LIBS "S'matter, Redbirds?"    "Afraid you'll lose?"
"Let's play, ladies," etc.

Jack Doyle leans on the fence.

Butch comes to bat for the Redbirds.

                      RONNIE
          Take care, that's our last bat!

The crowd begins to boo and hiss.

But the Redbirds begin to play inspired ball.   Butch gets a
double, and Bill homers again behind him.

The score is 7-4 at the end of the seventh, then--

Finally, Ronnie and T-Bo are in synch.   Ronnie strikes out
two Braves in a row.

T-Bo walks to the mound.

                      T-BO
          Next one up's scared of fastballs.

Ronnie strikes out this batter, too.

In the bottom of the eighth, Lyn and Cal score and Andy and
Crip single. T-Bo comes to bat. Way Dell winds up, but
doesn't have the ball. Andy leads off to steal third, but T-
Bo shouts--

                      T-BO (CONT'D)
          No, Andy, don't!
Andy reverses direction in time and is back at second before
he can be tagged.

The crowd is starting to get behind the Redbirds; at the end
of the inning it's 7-6, Braves.

At the top of the ninth, Denis Gilbert waves his first base
coach off and goes to stand in front of the Redbirds' dugout.

                      DENIS
          Good cut! Tighten up, he ain't that
          good a pitcher!

Ronnie takes a long, deep breath. Looks at the glove.    And
pitches how Scoot taught him. Strike one.

T-Bo throws signals.   Ronnie winds up and fires strike two.
                                                             111.

                         DENIS (CONT'D)
             That wasn't no strike, Baril!

                         EDDY
             Was a strike, Gilbert.

                         DENIS
             T-Bo, you tell him now.   That 'uz
             outside.

T-Bo just blinks back.

                         EDDY
             Get back to your team, please, sir.

Denis turns to Ronnie.

                         DENIS
             Bet you can't throw another one,
             Dumb bum.

Ronnie leans into the throw.    It's perfect.     Strike three.

Denis is getting apoplectic.

Aypee makes a base hit.     Way Dell singles to advance Aypee.

Another Braves batter hits a fly right back to Ronnie, who
makes an astounding catch. Aypee rounds third and heads for
home.

Ronnie throws to T-Bo at home and runs for third. Cal steps
to the infield side. Aypee reverses and runs back toward
third, but T-bo throws to Ronnie and creeps up. Aypee turns
again. Ronnie throws to T-Bo. Cal moves in. T-Bo fakes a
toss to Ronnie and throws to Cal.

Crowd boos.
                         DENIS (CONT'D)
             That ain't fair!

Cal tries to tag Aypee, but Aypee ducks and trips Cal. As
he falls, Cal flips the ball to T-Bo. T-Bo tags Aypee out.

Crowd screams.

Jack Doyle walks down the third base line and turns to watch.

Now the Redbirds are up, and Crip singles.        He reaches first
and jumps up and down.

Then T-Bo steps to the plate.    Smacks the plate with the
bat. Hard.

He swings.    Strike one.
                                                         112.

T-Bo takes the next pitch.     Strike two.

Then he barks one foul. Then another. He watches as Way
Dell, the pitcher, scrapes something from the underside of
the bill of his cap.

                        T-BO
          I see you.

Then T-Bo readies for the next pitch, a curveball that sinks.

A loud CRACK.

The ball sails to the far fence, left of center.   The Braves
run, can't pick it up, get it, miss the cutoff.

The crowd cheers as T-Bo rounds the bases.    He touches home
plate with a jump for joy.

The scoreboard reads 7-7.

Then all goes quiet.

Ronnie, at the plate, picks up the bat.

It's splintered in two.

                        RONNIE
          Oh, no.

He turns to Aypee.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Aypee, please. Can we borrow a bat?

Aypee motions to the dugout.

Way Dell starts out of the Braves' dugout with a bat.
Denis Gilbert grabs Way Dell.

                      DENIS
          No! Never help your opponent. When
          you're in battle, finish the job.

Scoot and Jack Doyle start toward the plate, Scoot on the
field, Doyle in the stands.

                        RONNIE
          Please!    We don' have another bat.

                      DENIS
          We don' have to give you nothin'.

Eddy takes off his mask.
                                                        113.

                      RONNIE
          We can't finish without a bat.   Mr.
          Baril, help me here.

Ronnie's pleas echo throughout the silent ball park.

                       RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Please!   PLEASE!

On the field, Eddy looks at Ronnie.

                      EDDY
          It's over, son. If you can't finish
          the game, you have to forfeit.

Lyn bolts from the dugout.

                      LYN
          That's not fair! You let us play
          almost a whole game--

The boys AD LIB "Yeah, come on!"   "We played a clean game,"
"Cheat us out of it," etc.

Scoot pulls Lyn away from the fray.

The Redbirds pull Ronnie into their huddle.

Charlie comes up.

                      CHARLIE
          Eddy, for Gawd's sakes--

                      EDDY
          Your boys done broke their last bat.
          Don't look like Gilbert wants to be
          a good sport, but no rule says he
          has to.
                      CHARLIE
          Been a long season, for being so
          short. Boys, move along before
          there's trouble.

                      LYN
          Already is trouble.

                      CHARLIE
          Don't make it impossible to play
          again next year.

The boys begin to stumble off.

In the stands, Bo turns to Pep.

                      BO
          That oughta do it for today, y'think?
                                                          114.

                      PEP
          Soon's that scout takes Aypee in
          hand. Gawd, it's hot.

They rise to go.

Jack Doyle shakes his head and starts to leave.

                         T-BO
          Wait!

The Redbirds halt.   Scoot stops and turns back.

                         T-BO (CONT'D)
          Don't leave!

T-Bo trots over to the Braves' dugout where the bats are
leaned against the fence.

                      DENIS
          Where you goin', turncoat?

T-Bo selects one of the bats.

                      T-BO
          I'm gettin' a bat.

He holds it in Denis's face.     The crowd GASPS.

                         T-BO (CONT'D)
          My bat.

He turns the bat to show "T-BO" burned into the wood.     Then
he takes the bat back and gives it to Ronnie.

                      T-BO (CONT'D)
          This is your game. Finish it.

Scoot looks to see if Jack Doyle has seen this.     He has.
Ronnie steps to the plate as Way Dell takes the mound.     Way
Dell winds up, fires his first pitch.

Eddy calls a strike.

Way Dell takes his time, looks at Aypee's signals.     Fires.

Ronnie swings.    At air.   Strike two.

Way Dell shakes off Aypee's first code.     Then nods, winds,
pitches.

Ronnie sees the ball come at him in slow motion. He takes a
tiny step, swings, rolls his wrists and makes solid contact.

The Braves watch as their future sails over their heads and
out of the park.
                                                         115.

The crowd erupts. Ronnie circles the bases. He is greeted
at home plate by his ecstatic team. They celebrate for a
moment, then--

                        RONNIE
          All right.    Let's go shake hands.

                      LYN
          I'm not shaking their goddamn hands.

Team AD LIBS "Nuh-uh" "Hell, no", "Forget it", etc.

Jack Doyle turns around.

                        CRIP
          We won.    Screw 'em.

                      RONNIE
          And they still think we're white
          trash. But we can steal back their
          respect if we're gentlemen.

The boys hesitate.

                        RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Gentlemen?    Whaddaya say?

The boys AD LIB "Yeah," "Okay," "Let's go," etc.

Ronnie leads the Redbirds over to the Braves in front of
their dugout. He starts to set the example, and approaches
Aypee to shake his hand--

But Bo steps in his way.

                      BO
          Whaddaya want, pissant?

                         RONNIE
          Game's over.     We're here to shake
          hands.

                      BO
          I don't think so.

Ronnie looks at Bo for a long time.

                      RONNIE
          You gonna shoot me? Then shoot me.
          But this time, you can't keep it
          quiet.

                      PEP
          What's he mean, Bo?

Bo stares back at Ronnie.    Then Ronnie steps around him.
                                                        116.

Ronnie looks at Aypee and holds out his hand.   Aypee shakes
it.

                      RONNIE
          You played a good game.

He moves on to Way Dell Gilbert.

                      RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Thanks for a good game.

Ronnie continues shaking hands with all of the Braves players.
The other boys follow suit.

In the stands, the crowd begins to applaud. Slowly, and
just a few at first, but then everyone. They applaud and
then they stand to applaud.

The Redbirds bask in the applause. They wave their caps at
the crowd. They shake hands with each other, slap each other
on the back.

They AD LIB "We did it," "Played in a championship," "Won
the championship," etc.

Ronnie tries to shake hands with Denis Gilbert, but Denis
won't do it.

Jack Doyle makes his way onto the field.

Scoot smiles and nods. The boys draw Scoot into their huddle.
Ronnie shakes hands with Scoot. Scoot smiles and pats
Ronnie's shoulder.

                      SCOOT
          I'm proud of you, son.

                        RONNIE
          Thanks.
The Redbirds head back to their own dugout.

                       RONNIE (CONT'D)
          Hey!   Where's that bat?

He returns to home plate.   Picks up the broken bat.

Sees a pair of shoes.   Winter shoes.

He looks at the legs, waist, chest, face, toothpick of the
owner of the shoes. It's Jack Doyle.

                      JACK
          What are you doing?

                      RONNIE
          I want it for a souvenir.
                                                         117.

                      JACK
          My name's Jack Doyle.    I work for
          the Chicago Cubs.

He shakes Ronnie's hand.

                      JACK (CONT'D)
          Are your parents here?

Bo, Pep and Denis stand apart from the Braves players.   They
don't speak to each other.

Denis sees Jack walk off with Ronnie.

                      DENIS
          Oh, my Gawd! That's the scout!
          Hey! Over here!

He runs across the field.    Bo runs after them.

                       BO
          Hey!   You got the wrong kid!    Hey!

                        JACK
          No, thanks!    I've found the man I
          want!

Jack waves him off and keeps going.

                      CHARLIE
          If that don't beat all.     Sorry, Pep,
          I tried.

Bo rounds on Denis Gilbert.

                      BO
          You're fired! Get outta my sight!

                      DENIS
          It ain't too late to tell the army
          what you did to Le Blanc!

                      BO
          You let it happen!

                      DENIS
          You threatened to kill me if I didn't!

Pep walks up to join them.

                      PEP
          What's this, Bo?

                      BO
          Old war wound--
                                                          118.

                      DENIS
          Yeah, and I'm pickin' the scab off,
          right now.

                      BO
          You're trash, just like the Le Blancs.
          And the niggers.

                      DENIS
          Pep, it's like this...

Jack and Ronnie return to the Redbirds' little crowd.

Jack shakes hands with Guy, even takes off his hat to meet
Babette.

Isabella jumps up and down.

                      JACK
          I'll come to your house tomorrow,
          and we'll sign some papers.

                         RONNIE
          Ai-yee!

Guy hugs Babette.

Jack turns to T-Bo.

                      JACK
          You're that catcher! You're an
          independent cuss, ain'tcha?

                         T-BO
          Reckon I am.

Jack hands T-Bo a card.

                      JACK
          Gimme a call. I think you'd make a
          fine scout.

Ronnie and T-Bo congratulate each other.

The Redbirds cheer and clap.

Jack talks to T-Bo as he writes in a little notebook.

Vernon Huval hugs Lyn's mother.

Regina Bellew takes photos with a Brownie.

The marching band plays "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

                                                    FADE OUT

								
To top