Bang the Drum Slowly

Synopsis: Henry Wiggen (Author to his friends) and Bruce Pearson are members of the New York Mammoths major league baseball team - Author the star pitcher, Bruce the catcher who never quite lived up to his potential - friends, and roommates when they're on the road. During the off season, Bruce is diagnosed with a terminal case of Hodgkin's disease. Author is the only person on the team who knows of Bruce's illness, with neither planning on telling anyone. Author takes extraordinary measures to ensure that he is playing ball with Bruce during what will probably be Bruce's final season before he can no longer play. Author looks after Bruce in part because Bruce is mentally a simple man who can easily be taken advantage of, especially by his opportunistic girlfriend Katie. As the season progresses, the team isn't quite gelling, despite being the best team on paper. But as information comes to light, the dynamic on the team changes to make it a memorable end of the season especially for Bruce, who
Genre: Drama, Sport
Director(s): John D. Hancock
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win.
Rotten Tomatoes:
96 min

Actually, you get over it

fairly quick.

You might not think so,

but it's true.

You're driving along

with a man

who's been told he's dying

and yet everything

keeps going on.

I mean, it'd been hard enough

rooming with him

when he was well.

He chewed

this disgusting tobacco

he pissed in the sink,

and as a catcher

he was a million dollars

worth of promise

worth two cents on delivery.

Most people didn't even know

he was with the club

and, um, he was almost too dumb

to play a joke on...

and now he'd been played

the biggest joke of all.

Bill! Oh, Bill!

Hi, Mom.

Oh, Bruce,

I'm so happy to see you.

I'm so glad you're home.

Hey, Bruce, Bruce,

how are you, son?

Hi, Dad.

It's so good

to see you.

- How you been?

- Okay.

You're looking good.

Oh, I feel... feel fine.

Daddy, Mama,

I want you to meet Henry.

You can call him Arthur.

Oh, I tell you,

it's an honor

to have you here,

Henry Wiggen.

I can't believe it.

I can't believe

I'm here.

Wonders never cease,


- Howdy, Mr. Bruce.

- Hi.

- You all better now?

- Yeah.

We was worried.

Well, I was in good hands.

I bet it was cold

up there.

Not too damn cold, Mama.

What was wrong?


Arthur, tell me why in hell

I swam up and down this mud

a million times

and I never drownded

Why I never got killed

in the war in Vietnam

or why I never

got plastered by a truck

but I come

clean through all that

and now I get this disease.


Don't ask me questions

I can't answer.

Well, I been handed

a sh*t deal, boy.

I'm doomed.


Arthur, you know that game

you and Joe Jaros played,


How you play it?

- Tegwar?

- Mm-hmm.

You don't know

how to play tegwar?

Spell it.


Stands for "The EXciting Game

Without Any Rules."


No rules.

No rules at all?

I'm not too sure

I'm understanding this game.

You might never.

Throw down

in the middle, sir.

Why? Nobody else

threw down in the middle.

It's your fish-fly card.

How can you tell?

It's the rules.

When the rules are wrong.

What rules?

I haven't been noticing

any rules.

They seem to keep changing.

Five and siX or 11, that's why.

Attaboy, Bruce.

Rules concerning what?

The rules of arithmetic.

I wouldn't play this game

for money, I can tell you.

Don't be discouraged.

Don't be discouraged.

See, it was no double birdie.

Double birdie?

Whereas where

it could've been a spread-eagle.

Probably you've been playing

southeastern tegwar

all your life,

but in the Majors

the boys all play

Western Canadian style

which, for my money,

is much faster.

That leaves you free

for a... butchered hog

most any time, whereas...

Whereas, uh...


Whereas what?

Well, whereas it, uh

keeps you from dropping dead

on the board.

Hello, there, old lady!

Hi. Oh...

Hi. Hi, Bruce.

Hi. Hello.

Holly, believe me

seeing you here

is a real pleasure.

Thank you.

My son's talked

a whole lot about you.

Oh, wonders never cease.

How are you?

Oh, I'm fine; never better.

These are the medical papers,

just in case

the doctors gave me

in Minnesota.

God, it was cold up there.

What'd you think

of your contract?

I didn't read it.

Hell, you didn't read it.

I was taught in school

where slavery went out

when Lincoln was shot.

Henry, who knows

about him?

Well, you know, I know,

the Mayo Clinic knows...

maybe his father.

And Bruce knows.

The talk of the Echo

Player Camp that spring was

a kid name of Piney Woods,

a wild crazy catcher

out of a place

called Good Hope, Georgia.

The sports writers

all called him

"Dutch's Good Hope

from Good Hope."

In the catching department,

Dutch needed hope.

Come on, Piney,

eh? Let's go.

Okay, stand close.

Put your arms

around each other's shoulders.

I'd rather not.

I'm very high on him,

very high.

He's got all the tools.

He hits them a mile.

He runs like a deer.

His backside's one mile wide

by actual measurement

where his power is.

Drinks milk by the tons.

Who will stay?

Aw, how do I know

in February

who I'll love in April

when the flowers bloom, huh?

No, no, flowers

bloom in May.

It's April showers.

Smartest prospect

in years.

Henry, how many

catchers on a team?

Never that many.

Here's the premium

from George, Arthur.

Gracias, George.

George says,

"Sign your contract, Arthur."

Morning, Arthur, Holly.

- Hi.

- Hey, Ugly.

Uh, I believe this, uh,

brings my insurance up to date.

Keep it coming;

it's your future.

Well, uh, I have to save some

for the present, however

such as, uh, these little girls

running around here

with their eye

on handsome ball players.

How much

you holding out for?


Well, even if I believed you,

you'll never get it

but as a veteran

of many a holdout

let me give you

a piece of sound advice:

Don't hang in the park

because your eye gleams,

your hand itches

and you wish

you were playing ball.

It shines through, Arthur,

and it'll cost you money.

It's the boss.

Don't be too comical;

just answer it.

Let it ring awhile.

Fishing pier;

tapeworms for sale.

Hey, Arthur, how

about coming down

and playing a game

of duo tegwar?

It's not the boss;

it's Joe Jaros.

Arthur, come on down.

This place is

swimming with fish.

All right, we'll be right down.

Who's "we"?

Well, me and Bruce.

Bruce Pearson?

Yeah, um... him

and me played

quite a bit of tegwar

over the winter.

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Mark Harris

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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