I like sports movies. There is usually drama, humor, effort, and twists of fate. In “Talent for the Game” we see baseball lover Edward James Olmos playing Virgil Sweet, a big league wanna-be catcher, but relegated to baseball scout. We see him checking out talented young players with potential. He has an eye for potential with a big helping of reality. As he meets pitchers and has them pitch to him he recognizes skills, needed development, and weaknesses. In the changing winds of pro ball, Virgil and his skills may be swept away in waves of data and statistics. He scouts for the California Angels.
His girl friend Bobbie, nicely played by Lorraine Bracco, is smart and works in the higher echelon of the Angels management. Virgil and Bobbie not only have fun together but support each other. On what maybe Virgil’s last scouting trip he discovers Sammy Bodeen (Jeff Corbett), an Idaho country boy in-line to follow in his father’s footsteps as the local pastor. After Virgil and Bobbie meet with the family and Virgil explains Sammy’s gift as a major league pitcher the mother played by Janet Carroll follows Virgil out to his car. She wants the best for her son. Carroll looked so familiar. She started her acting career right out of high school in Kansas City, then Broadway, and then Los Angeles and Hollywood. She got her big film break as the mother of a really young Tom Cruise in Risky Business. Back in Los Angeles we see a disaster unfold due to the publicity hungry new Angel’s owner.
Virgil Sweet: “If you want something, sometimes you’ve got to take a risk. And if you really want something, then you’ve got to be willing to risk everything.”
“Edward James Olmos was born in Los Angeles, California, to Eleanor (Huizar) and Pedro Olmos, who was a mail carrier and welder. His family was of Mexican descent. If Olmos had followed the first love of his life, he would have been a professional baseball player. But by age 13, another love entered his life: rock music. By age 15, he was already an experienced rock singer, forming and reforming several “garage bands” along the way. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he played the most famous clubs on Sunset Strip, including Gazzarri’s and The Factory. But a friend suggested that, with his flair for the dramatic, he consider a career in acting. Throughout the 1970s, he divided his time between rock music gigs, acting classes, bit parts in television, Off-off-off Broadway plays and his business of moving fine furniture (which kept body, soul and family together). His first big break was a starring role in Luis Valdez’s play, “Zoot Suit”, in 1978. The play moved to Broadway and led to a Tony Award nomination and great critical acclaim.” – imdb.com/name/nm0001579/
Every time I see Olmos in film or on TV I know the production will be good and his performance will be fantastic. I first saw him in Blade Runner (1982) as Gaff and have continued as a fan ever since. He played opposite Harrison Ford (as Deckard). “Blade Runner is a 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, and written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples. Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos, it is loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” – Wikipedia
Watch the trailer of Blade Runner – imdb.com/video/vi531759385
Gaff : You’ve done a man’s job, sir. I guess you’re through, huh?
Deckard : Finished.
Gaff : It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?
Olmos’ performances usually call for re-watching. My absolutely favorite movie by Olmos is “Stand and Deliver” (1988), which tells the story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout-prone students to learn calculus. Like “Talent for the Game” Olmos’ characters seem real, caring, and believable.
Watch the trailer of Stand and Deliver – imdb.com/video/vi4119903769
Check out the awards and nominations (too many to list) of Edward James Olmos – imdb.com/name/nm0001579/awards
I hope you become a fan of Edward James Olmos and his films and TV appearances.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.
Susanne Bacon says
What an inspiring article – now I want to watch these movies, especially “Stand and deliver” I learned to like Olmos in “Miami Vice” very much indeed – though as a teenager I was (of course!) much more drawn by the younger character that was played by Don Johnson. Olmos has this subtlety to his acting that makes him that believable that one forgets he is an actor filling a role. Thank you for more about him!
Don Doman says
I’m glad I could inspire you to watch Olmos in action outside of Miami. I never watched that series but am always happy to sport five o’clock shadow when I can get away with it . . . like wearing a mask during COVID.
Thanks for sharing . . . and enjoy!