At the conclusion of Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones gives a big speech on how baseball is the purest thing in America and other nonsense. As I heard actor Robert Wuhl point out, it’s ironic that a black man would say baseball was pure considering it took until 1947 before a black man ever played in the MLB. As a kid though, I never really thought too deeply about baseball and its effects on society. I was much more into becoming an athlete. If I couldn’t become an athlete I would want to meet one. And that’s what In The Zone was all about, giving up your dreams and watching others live them.
In The Zone was what I guess you could call very unmemorable since I can’t seem to find anything about it online. How can you not find something online about a show that was on for at least 3 years? Was I the only one who watched this? Is that why the cast changed every season?
This show was a kid’s version of “This Week in Baseball.” They’d take you around the major leagues and update you on who was doing well aka who was taking steroids. This show was on during the late 90s which was steroid heaven. It aired on Fox before Saturday afternoon baseball. Saturdays of course were my family’s day to watch TV all day long. This wasn’t much different from our weekdays which was to go to school/work then watch TV all night long. I’m amazed none of us ever crashed through the bathroom floor while on the toilet we were so obese.
(Dead people in baseball uniforms. Seriously, I can’t find any evidence of this show anywhere)
In The Zone had a few silly segments with cast members making wise cracks and stuff like that. They’d use quick MTV-like cuts to then show actual filmed segments with real life baseball players. Each episode featured a player giving advice like how to field a groundball or how to convince your wife to sign a pre-nup. They’d also have interview segments which were always boring. Why do I care what an adult jock has to say? I’m sure it’s something about how much better he is than me.
My favorite segment though was each episode allowed a kid (a kid like me!) to meet their favorite player (or their favorite player who wasn’t a douche) and do some activity with them. Kids would do things like bake cookies with Jason Giambi or make Carlos Baerga vacuum their bedroom.
The only two actual activities I remember were one kid having New York Mets closer John Franco throw batting practice to him. The kid was incredibly nerdy but smart. None of the other kids ever did anything at the actual stadiums. They always wanted to teach the players something about life. I would have done something at the stadium for sure. The kid got to meet everyone on the Mets. I know saying this today sounds like getting to meet everyone your parents have slept with (awkward and uncomfortable because you have to pretend like you respect them) but back then it meant something.
The other segment I remember was the only one I ever saw featuring someone from the Philadelphia Phillies, my team. Third baseman Scott Rolen taught some kid how to drive. I guess the kid was of age or at least I hope he wasn’t. I remember Rolen trying to be funny and asking the kid what a yellow light meant. The kid said “slow down.” Rolen said “Not in Philly. In Philly it means hurry up.” Does Philadelphia have different traffic laws? Stop trying to be cute. You have a sour puss face and it took me forever to get your autograph Mr. Rolen.
(I wrote a paper in 5th grade on how Scott Rolen was my hero because he was great offensively and defensively. Another kid wrote about Jesus. That nerd. I was really obsessed with this man. One time I asked the barber to cut my hair like his. Ugh gay)
In The Zone was the kind of show that proves how much things have changed in sports. Players would never let a kid get this close to them these days. Only 15 years ago they were taking time out from their 4 hour work days to film a segment and make a kid smile. Why are athletes such jerks? Why couldn’t I ever get a chance to have John Rocker teach me how to make a Jell-O mold?
I found a video. The Ginger is Scut Farkas from A Christmas Story! He was one of the damn hosts.