The most important thing in life is showing up

A man merely drifting through his life is about to find inner strength he never knew he had. In "Hardball," KEANU REEVES portrays Conor O'Neill-an underachiever who is both inspired and redeemed by the unlikeliest group of people he could ever have imagined.

Conor likes to bet on sports games, which makes him a dubious choice for a role model. However, his buddy won't help him pay off his debts unless he coaches for a corporately sponsored youth baseball team. All of a sudden, Conor O'Neill is thrust into molding underprivileged kids into a cohesive unit in one of the toughest parts of Chicago.

What could hardly be a worse punishment to Conor will slowly become a learning experience. For the first time in his life, this man is responsible for someone other than himself. His meager existence and selfish pursuits begin to seem empty, and his eyes are opened by young lives and hearts barely scraping by on the fringes of society.

Surprising even himself, Conor begins to form deep attachments to the street-smart youngsters-and to their dedicated young teacher (DIANE LANE). These impoverished boys are able to show the aimless O'Neill a thing or two about trust and heart. Tough on the outside but vulnerable inside, his kids come to rely on Conor and baseball to lift them-if only for a few hours at a time-out of their hard and sometimes tragic lives.

The boys begin to realize they can triumph over their often oppressive environment, and their coach learns even more: Conor discovers that redemption can come in all shapes and sizes, and from the most unexpected source.

"Hardball" is inspired by Daniel Coyle's book, Hardball: A Season in the Projects, an account of Coyle's own experience coaching a youth baseball team in Chicago's Cabrini-Green housing project. The film transports audiences on a journey of redemption and tells a story of triumph over adversity.

Giving time and encouragement to a bunch of pint-sized strangers comes slowly to Conor O'Neill. But the payoff is unexpected. The more this reluctant coach hangs around these children, the more he learns about the strength of the human spirit. The team members gain leadership and friendship and their coach learns there is much to be gained from giving to others. Young actor Michael B. Jordan portrays 'Jamal' and sums it up succinctly: "It's a movie about teamwork".

In the film, Conor O'Neill and his best friend, Ticky Tobin (JOHN HAWKES) hang out and watch sports games. When Conor gets in debt over his head, he turns to a childhood pal, Jimmy Fleming (MIKE McGLONE), a successful investment banker. Jimmy has helped out before, but this time he insists O'Neill earn the money-by making him coach the company's youth team.

After a rocky start, Conor begins to connect with his players. The Kekambas (each team in the league is named for a different African tribe) is made up of ten scrappy boys around 10 years in age. The team members include left-fielder Sterling (STERLING ELIJAH BRIM); Clarence (KRISTOPHER LOFTEN), one of the Kekambas' two pitchers; Miles (A. DELON ELLIS, JR.) the star pitcher-so long as he can listen and sway to Notorious B.I.G. rap music on his headphones while on the pitcher's mound; Jefferson (JULIAN GRIFFITH), a heavy-set first baseman with asthma; Andre (BRYAN HEARNE), a tough kid who's prone to getting in scrapes; Jamal (MICHAEL B. JORDAN), Andre's buddy and the team's second baseman; Kofi (MICHAEL PERKINS), who may be the Kekambas' best player; Ray-Ray (BRIAN REED); Alex (ALEXANDER TELLES); and finally, G-Baby (DeWAYNE WARREN), Kofi's younger brother, and constant shadow. 'G-Baby' is small in stature, but is heroic at heart.

When Kofi and Ray-Ray's lagging schoolwork threatens to keep the two boys off the team, Conor goes to St. Malachy Elementary School to speak to their teacher, Ms. Wilkes (DIANE LANE). In time, the coach and the teacher find they share a common interest in the welfare of the children.

But as the weeks wear on, Conor O'Neill still has the odds against him: the "team" is short on baseball skills and shorter still on sportsmanship. Their arch rival, the Bua Was, are coached by a by-the-book yuppie type, Matt Hyland (D.B. SWEENEY). But the biggest obstacle facing O'Neill is still himself. His betting problems eventually seem resolved, and just when he's started to accomplish the impossible and turn these boys into a cohesive, dedicated unit it looks like he's about to walk away from the ballpark for good. It's a major crossroads for this team and coach.

Year Released
Star Profile
Official Website
Click Here
Buy Posters!
BBFC Certs
What They Mean
<< back