Philadelphia Phillies: Domonic Brown Channels Roy Hobbs' Number 9

By Sean O'Brien
Philadelphia Phillies Domonic Brown
Eric Hartline–USA TODAY Sports

No one believed that Domonic Brown was going to channel Roy Hobbs for well over a month this season. But, that’s exactly what the National League Player of the Month in May has done.

Actually, there may have been a few people who saw him in that starring role. New Philadelphia Phillies‘ assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner, along with lead hitting coach Steve Henderson (the Philles’ former Triple-A hitting coach), deserve credit for helping Brown turn his season (and possibly his career) around.

Robert Redford portrayed the left-handed hitting, right-field playing Hobbs in the 1984 movie ‘The Natural’. Sabermatricians (and other younger people) may, or may not, know that the Hobbs’ character was based upon former Phillies’ first baseman Eddie Waitkus.

Waitkus, who played for the Chicago Cubs in the mid- to late-1940s, was dealt to the Phillies in December, 1948. Upon his return to Chicago (with the Phillies) for a game in 1949, an obsessed 19-year-old ‘fan’ shot him in her hotel room. Of course, a lengthier and different type of online feature would need to be written about a 29-year-old man who willingly chose to be alone in a room with a 19-year-old ‘woman’ way back when.

Bernard Malamud’s 1952 book, which incorporated the criminal event connected to Waitkus, was the basis for the movie nearly three decades later. Now, nearly three decades after the movie was released, baseball fans have witnessed Brown use his own ‘Wonderboy’ bat (a reference to Hobbs’ lucky piece of hitting lumber) to slam eight home runs during the past eight games.

As to whether the current occupant of the magical number 9 (which was also worn by Hobbs on the screen and by Waitkus, after the Baltimore Orioles purchased him from the Phillies in 1954) can continue his Hollywood heroics is the question of the moment.

Waitkus had a decent 11-year career in the major leagues, but wasn’t a slugger. Hobbs was a slugger whose career exploded after a 15-year delay. As for Brown, he’s the 25-year-old outfielder who hopefully has found his way.

Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanyOB, Facebook, Google+ and read his blog Insight.

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