Right off the Bat (1915)

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Right Off the Bat is historically important as the first baseball biopic ever filmed. This is the story of Mike Donlin, aka "Turkey Mike," who during his erratic but colorful career (lifetime batting average:.333) made the record books by scoring five runs (two doubles, two triples) during a single game in 1901. Cast as "himself," Donlin is shown joining the local ballclub in his home town of Winstead, Connecticut (where the film was made), much to the delight of his girl-next-door sweetheart Viola Bradley (Claire Messereau). All-purpose villain Jake Dunning (George Sullivan), failing in his attempt to bribe Donlin to throw the Big Game, has our hero kidnapped on the eve of the game. With Viola's help, Donlin escapes his abductors' clutches, scores the winning home run, and is immediately signed up with the New York Giants (where, in "real life," Turkey Mike was employed for twelve seasons). That Right Off the Bat is largely a figment of its producers' imaginations is proven by the fact that, while Donlin is given a fictional sweetheart in the picture, his actual wife Rita was cast as the heroine's best friend! As for Mike Donlin himself, after retiring from baseball he embarked on several vaudeville tours and in 1923 moved to Hollywood, where until his death ten years later he worked as a small-part actor and/or technical advisor in films ranging from Buster Keaton's The General to Joe E. Brown's Elmer the Great.