8 Decades of The Hollywood Reporter

 Everett Collection

With the World Series under way, Moneyball has joined the pantheon of baseball movies that has The Pride of the Yankees batting cleanup. The 1942 film recounts the life story of Hall of Fame first baseman Lou Gehrig, whose career was cut short by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (now commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease). It was Gehrig who stood before 62,000 fans at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, and gave the greatest farewell speech in the history of anything ("People all say that I've had a bad break. But today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth"). He died a year before the film starring Gary Cooper was released. It did the kind of business Moneyball's producers would shed tears for. "Goldwyn Pic Off to Largest Preem Mobs in Film History," read a headline in The Hollywood Reporter (the opening-night gross was $101,000 at 41 New York theaters, which THR called "a great boost for the picture business"). The review lauded Pride as a "spine-tingling, heart-tugging human document." It earned 11 Oscar noms (including best picture and best actor for Cooper) but won only for editing. Gehrig, who played in a then-record 2,130 consecutive games, was such an esteemed figure that though the film was released by RKO, at producer Samuel Goldwyn's request Disney created an animated short called How to Play Baseball that screened before the film; Goofy played all the positions. It has more than 1 million hits on YouTube.

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