Friday, May 1, 2009

... his name was Kirby Kyle

Radio Days -- Woody Allen's 1987 tribute to, well, the radio days of the 1940s -- is more a nostalgia piece than a great film*.

*Although it does feature a quick early appearance from one Larry David, who is -- what else? -- yelling.

But that doesn't keep it from offering one of my all-time favorite bits.

The scene: A blustery sports broadcaster, telling a tale on his nightly show (listen to the audio clip here).

"Today's story ... is about a baseball player. His name was Kirby Kyle, a lean southpaw from Tennessee. He played for the old St. Louis Cardinals. He threw fast and he had a good curveball, and all the hitters knew it.

"He was a kid with a great future. But one day, he went hunting. He loved to hunt, just like his father and his father's father.

"Chasing a rabbit, he stumbled, and his rifle went off. The bullet entered his leg. Two days later it was amputated.

"They said he would never pitch again. But the next season he was back. He had one leg, but he had something more important: He had heart.

"The following winter another accident cost Kirby Kyle an arm -- fortunately not his pitching arm. He had one leg and one arm, but more than that, he had heart.

"The next winter, going after a duck, his gun misfired. He was ... blind. But he had instinct as to were to throw the baseball. Instinct ... and heart.

"The following year, Kirby Kyle was run over by a truck and killed. The following season, he won 18 games ... in the Big League in the Sky."

Honestly, I don't know why baseball's stat geeks set doesn't quote this one over and over and over and over ... Kirby Kyle might have begun as a parody of real-life player Monty Stratton, but today he means so much more.

He had heart.

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