powered by AFI
The working title of this film was The Life of Monte Stratton. Stratton, who was born in Celeste, TX, on May 21, 1912 and died in Greenville, TX, on September 29, 1982, was a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox baseball team between 1934 and 1938. As depicted in the film, Stratton continued playing baseball after the amputation of his right leg following a hunting accident. He won eighteen games playing on an artificial leg. Stratton served as a technical advisor on the film, and coached James Stewart on big league pitching.
In February 1948, Hollywood Reporter announced that Roy Rowland had been assigned to direct the film. According to Hollywood Reporter, Rowland shot footage of the White Sox in Chicago in June 1948, before principal production on the film began, but the extent of his contribution to the final film has not been determined. A December 1947 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Gregory Peck was considered for the title role. Van Johnson was announced for the role in March 1948, but Johnson, who had been severly injured in a 1943 automobile crash, withdrew from the cast after being advised by his physician that the role would be too strenuous for him. According to a September 1948 Daily Variety news item, Donna Reed was considered for the part played by June Allyson.
While various contemporary news items stated that Ted Lyons, the manager of the White Sox in 1948, was set to play himself in the film, he was portrayed by Bruce Cowling. Several real-life baseball figures did portray themselves in the film, including Jimmy Dykes, a former manager of the White Sox, and Cleveland baseball player Gene Bearden. Studio publicity materials claim that the picture featured seventy-two real-life professional baseball players representing all but two of the major league teams. Agnes Moorehead and Robert Gist, who both appeared in the film, were married from 1953 to 1958.
The baseball scenes were filmed at Wrigley Field in Chicago and Gilmore Field in Hollywood, and at American League fields in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Washington, D.C. The April 21, 1949 world premiere of The Stratton Story in Cleveland, OH, was held in honor of the Cleveland Indians' opening home game of the season. An M-G-M Silver Anniversary gala showing of the film was held in Los Angeles on June 1, 1949. During the spring of 1949, the film played in selected cities with American League teams before its general release in June 1949. The Stratton Story won an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story. In February 1950, the film was named the "most enjoyed motion picture of 1949" by Photoplay magazine, and received six of the magazine's Gold Medal Awards. The film was also named Picture of the Year by the Protestant Motion Picture Council and the Christian Herald. Modern sources indicate that the film grossed $3,700,000 in its initial release. Stewart and Allyson recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on February 13, 1950.