April 12, 2004 12:00 PM


TNT (Sun., April 4, 8 p.m. ET)

A boy named Joe—nicest kid you’d ever want to meet—gets his hands on a highly valuable baseball card of old-time Pittsburgh Pirates great Honus Wagner and finds himself transported from 1985 back to 1909. The Little Leaguer makes the disillusioning discovery that the immortal “Flying Dutchman” accomplished his batting feats while pumped to the gills with steroids.

Sorry—strike that last sentence. Though I’m a baseball fan, irreverence takes hold of me when I see a Field of Dreams-type movie that gets all misty about the game’s mythical qualities. In this harmless entry, Matthew Modine plays Wagner with a shucks here and a golly there. Approached by a photographer after a World Series victory, he says: “Aww, I dunno. I feel funny about havin’ my picture in the paper.” Honus doubts Joe’s time-travel tale—especially the part about 1980s ballplayers making millions—but accepts him as a temporary roommate and gives him tips to improve his hitting and self-confidence. Nasty Ty Cobb (William Lee Scott) of the Detroit Tigers stirs up some conflict just so we’ll have a bad guy to boo.

Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis flashes her pearly whites and wrinkles her pretty nose as Honus’s fiancée, Mandy, whose fancy parents consider a Pirate socially inferior. The casting of Joe, however, is a puzzle. Though the character is 12 in the modern scenes, where Mark Rendall portrays him, 28-year-old Shawn Hatosy takes the role for the 1909 part of the story. Hatosy acts like a child in a man’s body. What gives?

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