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Angels in the Outfield

Angels in the Outfield(1951)

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In Pittsburgh, household hints reporter Jennifer Paige is assigned an article on the Pittsburgh Pirates from "the women's angle." Jennifer knows nothing about baseball, but soon learns that the Pirates are in a long losing streak. When two sports reporters goad her into interviewing Guffy McGovern, the team's ill-tempered manager, she is shocked to overhear the bad language he uses berating the team and writes a scathing article blaming him for the slump. The article is so successful that her editor keeps her on as a sports reporter, and she decides to find out more about the tempermental McGovern. One evening, when she approaches him in his favorite restaurant, he says he does not care what people write about him, despite a long-standing feud with Fred Bayles, the caustic former Pirates announcer, who now works for the New York Giants. McGovern slugs Bayles in the restaurant men's room, thus antagonizing him further. One night, after a particularly brutal loss in Boston, McGovern chasitises his players, especially aging pitcher Saul Hellman, a former friend. He then goes out to the diamond and is startled to hear a voice yell "shut up." The voice says he is an angel sent by Gabriel, who is answering someone's prayers. He tells McGovern that if he refrains from swearing, slugging and anger he will win some ball games, maybe even a pennant. To diffuse McGovern's skepticism, the voice tells him to look for a miracle the next day in the third inning. McGovern is convinced when Rube Ronson, ordinarily a terrible player, makes a great catch, then a ball hit by one of the Pirates temporarily disappears and they win the game. The team wins their next ten games and McGovern seems transformed, but when he starts to swear in the eleventh game, they lose. That night, the angel says he and his "boys," angelic former players, will help the Pirates when they are needed, but most of the time they will be on their own. During one game, Bridget White, a little girl from St. Gabriel's orphanage, excitedly tells her baseball-loving Mother Superior, Sr. Edwitha, that she sees angels behind each of the Pirates. Sr. Edwitha merely thinks that the girl has had too much sun, but when Jennifer hears about the incident, she writes about it in a column. After McGovern reads the story, he goes to the orphanage to talk to Bridget. He believes her story and is touched when she says that she has been praying for him to the angel Gabriel. That afternoon the game is rained out, and Jennifer goes to McGovern's apartment to apologize for her column, which is the talk of Pittsburgh. The next day, she offers to take Bridget to the ball game and keep her out of the sun so she can write a new article explaining that the heat made Bridget see things. Soon realizing that McGovern has a soft spot for Bridget, Jennifer begins to spend more time with him and brings Bridget to his apartment for his birthday dinner. Jennifer cleans up the apartment and makes a homey meal, but a kitchen mishap ruins the food and the three go to a restaurant. A drunken Bayles is at another table, and despite McGovern's best efforts, Bayles creates a scene and slugs McGovern. That night, McGovern asks Sr. Edwitha about adoption. She is sympathetic, but tells him that the courts usually prefer married couples to single people. The next day, after he is hit in the head with a baseball, a stunned McGovern jovially tells reporters that he talks to angels every day. Bayles accuses him of being "emotionally unstable" and does a televised interview with a Boston groundskeeper who observed McGovern's behavior on the deserted ballfield weeks before. McGovern becomes a laughing stock and even the players are concerned, except for Hellman, who defends his old friend. The night before McGovern must attend a hearing on his worthiness to continue with the Pirates, he talks to the angel and is shaken to learn that the cellestial team will soon be signing up Hellman. The hearing brings up two main points: are there angels, and can you talk to them? A pschyiatrist dismisses angels as superstition, but McGovern's expert witnesses, a minister, a priest and a rabbi, affirm their existence. Just as the baseball commissioner is about to rule, Sr. Edwitha brings Bridget in to testify, at the girl's insistence. When Bayles then makes a crack about McGovern's recent filing of intent to adopt Bridget, McGovern slugs him and a melée ensues. A lightning crack interrupts the brawl, and as a feather floats down, the commissioner dismisses the case. On the way to the ballpark, the angel tells McGovern that the punch cancelled their deal and now he is on his own. At the start of the game, McGovern selects Hellman to pitch, over the protests of the fans; despite Hellman's exhaustion, he pitches a winning game, and the Pirates win the pennant. That night, McGovern, Jennifer and Bridget, who will soon be a family, walk happily out of the ballpark, thinking of the great ball players who might be playing on the heavenly champs team.