The Final Season
Nowhere is the tradition of baseball’s roots in Americana more evident than in tiny Norway, Iowa, population 586, where the exploits of Norway High School became legendary. From ESPN to Baseball Weekly, reporters mused at how a school of fewer than 100 students could win 19 State Baseball Championships, frequently against schools five times their size. Baseball and winning against impossible odds was in the blood of these skinny farm kids, passed down from generation to generation like a lucky glove.
Coach Jim Van Scoyoc, three time Regional Coach of the Year and, more recently National Coach of the Year, gets most of the credit. He’s a baseball man’s baseball man, whose look of disapproval can melt concrete. He believes in coaching the fundamentals and coaching to win that last game, not the next game.
Young Kent Stock, 24, remembers reading about Norway baseball as a kid. After playing in high school and college he accepts a teaching position in nearby Belle Plaine. But a chance meeting with Coach Jim earns him the opportunity of a lifetime, to be an assistant coach at Norway. From working on the field to hitting fungos to the state championship game, it’s the best summer of his life.
As the 1990-91 school year begins, Kent moves to St. Louis and starts a new career as a banker. But rumors are turning into reality back in Norway, declining enrollment and increasing state regulations are threatening to close the high school. Jim shows up at the bank to let Kent know that there’s a big town meeting with the school board to try and save the high school from merging with nearby Madison Community.
Norway, Iowa loves their high school baseball. So much so that the post office hangs a sign in the window during a big baseball game which says, “Nobody’s Grandma died. At the ballgame.” Young Kent Stock takes over a team which has been successfully coached for years by Jim Van Scoyoc, who has won several awards for his talent as a coach. Stock is set up to fail by a member of the school board who wants to merge the school with nearby Madison High School. But as Stock overcomes several obstacles the town swells with excitement as Norway attempts to win its twentieth, and final, championship.
This film has several nice themes, including the theme of perseverance, community, and making an effort to be remembered for the right things. Sean Astin, Powers Boothe and Rachael Leigh Cook all give good performances. It is a shame that due to strong language we are unable to award our Dove Seal to this film.