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Oct 8, 2018

This week, we find the Gipper playing presidentially-monikered baseball star Grover Cleveland Alexander in The Winning Team. Reagan's Warner Brothers swan song was produced and directed by his old comrades from the B-unit trenches (Bryan Foy and Lewis Seiler, respectively), and pairs him with new studio world-beater Doris Day (#7 box office star in the country that year - and rising). The resulting film treads a fascinating line between inspirational sports/disability narrative and post-war "New Domesticity" woman's picture (with songs!). The winning team, you see, isn't the St. Louis Cardinals - it's Grover and Aimee (as long as she agrees to dream in his direction). It's not all Randian achievement and adulation, however - Reagan channels some real Kings Row style pathos in his portrayal of the beleaguered big leaguer - even winding up on the cusp of Nightmare Alley ignominy at his nadir - and it's up to Doris to reclaim him from oblivion. 

Things get a bit "inside baseball" as Dave gives in to his lifelong obsession with the erstwhile national pastime, but we also find occasion to discuss millenarian barnstorming baseball squads, 1950s nostalgia for the early 20th century, and grapple with the film's discouraging omission (at the behest of the hurler's widow Aimee) of any mention of Alexander's epilepsy. The filmmakers do, however, delve fairly deeply into the physical symptoms that plagued the pitcher - and ultimately drove him desperately to drink. Also: discover what separates Sylvester from Frank Stallone (at least according to Gareth), hear Romy's reactions to a recent re-screening of In a Lonely Place,  and enjoy the AFI subject tags for Boy Meets Girl (which we forgot to provide in episode 8A).   
Cast also includes Frank Lovejoy, Russ Tamblyn (who has had a brush with one of our panelists), Dorothy Adams, and then-current ballplayers Bob Lemon, Peanuts Lowrey, Jerry Priddy, George Metkovich, and Gene Mauch. 
Relevant Link:
Outro Song:
"Ol' Saint Nicholas" by Doris Day and friends (including Ronald Reagan)

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"Driving Reagan theme' by Gareth Hedges