The film ends with a now legally blind 93 year old Hano celebrating his birthday, how else, by reminiscing about the great New York Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell and throwing a few screwballs, his and Hubbell's favorite pitch, to Leonoudakis. Leonoudakis crouches like a catcher, with his fielder's glove on his right hand, as both he and Hano, like the great Carl Hubbell are lefties, to receive the pitches. As the ball travels across about 30 feet, as far as Hano can throw now, it also travels across almost all of baseball history. The history contained in the arc of Hano's screwball is that of the personal stories, favorite players, beloved teams and memories of days in the bleachers that exists inside of all real baseball fans, even those of us who, unlike Hano, never saw the Babe, Don Larsen or Willie Mays.
Fifty years after that tough defeat, and more importantly two years after finally getting their World Series victory, Giants fans can look at that 1962 team more charitably. They can recognize the impressive talent and interesting baseball stories that were brought together on that team. It is still possible, but not likely, that that great World Series will be commemorated by a 50th anniversary rematch. Even if this does not occur, it is worth taking a few minutes this October to remember this extraordinary team that came up just a foot or so short of a championship.
Nonetheless, Halladay occupies a strange place in the pantheon of great pitchers as his career fell between two generations of great pitchers. He spent the first part of his career in the shadow of the Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez cohort who dominated the game from the late 1980s until the middle of the last decade and were all better pitchers than Halladay. When these pitchers began to retire few years ago, a new group of pitchers including Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke and Felix Hernandez emerged as the top pitchers in the game. Although there is certainly no guarantee that these pitchers will have better careers than Halladay’s, it likely that for much of the duration of his career, Halladay will be not quite as good as at least some of this next generation of stars.