Mr. 3000 (2004)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V-1; L-3 ; S/N-1

For thou dost deliver a humble people;
but the haughty eyes thou dost bring down.
Psalm 18:27

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life?
Mark 8:35-37

Mr. 3000

Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) would have done well to remember the two Scripture passages above. An egocentric baseball superstar with his eyes set on his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame, he quits his team on the day that he hits his 3000th base hit. He announces his decision while being interviewed, not even having the courtesy to discuss it beforehand with Coach Gus Panas (Paul Sorvino). The reporters are surprised, as the Milwaukee Brewers have a good chance to win a pennant, but not without the presence of their star hitter. This does not faze Ross.

Nine years go by, and we see Ross on television pushing his 3000 Plaza, where he owns a barbershop (3000 Cuts), a pet store (3000 Paws), and a Chinese restaurant (3000 Woks). Also a bar (one wall covered with what we suppose are 3000 baseballs), where the only friend he ever made on his team now tends bar, Boca (Michael Rispoli). But, when Ross is honored by the retiring of his old number at the Brewers’ stadium, Boca can think of only one good thing to say about his friend, “Man, could he hit the ball and I loved him for that!” There had been just one other invited speaker, a teammate who played but a short time with Ross, and whom the superstar could not even remember—and he too had little to say: Boca whispers to Ross that he was the only other former team member willing to take part in the ceremony. Just how unpopular with players and reporters this guy is we see by the fact that each year Ross is passed over when nominations for entry into the Hall of Fame are made.

Ross remains confident that his superb batting record will eventually earn him a place at Cooperstown. However, this self-assurance is shattered when a game statistician discovers that errors had been made in recording Ross’s hits—he is three hits short of the magical 3000 number. Upset, the now 47 year-old Ross determines to go back to the game for the needed three hits. The powers that be at the Brewers are willing to accept him, even though they think he has no chance of success at his age, because they know that the gate receipts will rise due to the curious coming back to watch their former idol. At the press conference before the skeptical reporters Ross displays his old arrogance by calling the last-place Brewers a “Little League” team. At the conference he also meets his former lover, Mo Simmons (Angela Bassett), who had broken off with him years before and now works for CNN.

It is no wonder that Ross receives a chilly reception from the present Brewers upon his entrance into the locker room. Indeed, one wit has placed a geriatric walker directly in front of his locker. His old manager will not even talk with him, still being upset by his betrayal years before, and the skeptical trainer requires Ross to get back into shape by putting him through a grueling training regimen. Finally, when the arrogant player steps into the batter’s box, he strikes out. And continues to do so game after game. As his humiliation continues, and sports announcers question his staying in the game—he even becomes the subject of a Jay Leno joke—Ross begins to develop a truer perspective of himself. He sees his old self in the person of the one team member who has great talent, T-Rex Pennebaker (Brian J. White), an ace hitter utterly devoid of any team feeling. Ross begins to chide T-Rex for this and to work up some team spirit.

Meanwhile Ross tries to rekindle his romance with Mo, beginning with granting her an exclusive interview. Matters develop between them, though the old arrogance continues to surface, almost ruining his chances with her. Finally, back on the field, when Ross does make two hits, the tension and pressure builds. Will Ross be able to make his 3000th hit before the season, and his opportunity, ends? By now he has helped to re-energize his team, so that they have a chance to attain 3rd place in the league, rather than their usual last. Which will be most important in Ross’s eyes at the last game when he faces the pitcher? Will he at last secure his place in Cooperstown? Silly questions you might say, but maybe not. Mr. 3000 might not be a great baseball film (say in the same league as Bull Durham or Field of Dreams), but it does have surprise or two, and some good insights to impart as to life and how it should be lived, off and on the field. A good film for youth and adults to view and discuss.

For reflection/discussion You might want to wait to see the film before reading this section.

1) What do you think of Stan Ross in the first part of the film? How is he the embodiment of what the apostle Paul was writing against? What do we see are the results of such a life style as his?

2) What changes Ross? How have you or someone you know experienced a similar change?

3) In what ways is this a formula sports film? How does the film depart from the formula at the end? How is what Ross does in that last game similar to what Jesus said in the Markan passage? What did Ross lose, and what did he gain in his decision? Which would you have chosen were you in his place?

4) How is his new-found character demonstrated by what he does with the ball? Remember what he did concerning the supposedly 3000th hit ball? How has T-Rex also changed by the end of the film? How does Ross change the names of his enterprises—and how will this be a sign of always of his new chosen path in life?