The Incredibly true story about Rickey Hill, who was a minor-league baseball player, is a must-see. Rickey was born with a degenerative spinal disease with doubts by Doctors that he would ever walk normally. However, he continued to try and persevere through that. The Hill (movie) is indicative of how the story actually happened.
“My legs when I was born were wrapped around one another, which created one problem, and then the other problem went on up to my back and my spine where I was born with very little disc,” said Rickey, who conveyed that the disease ran in his family.” (Becoming Outlaws Podcast)
His dream was to become a professional baseball player. As a child, Rickey would spend 16 hours hitting rocks with a stick. “I hit rocks because it was called free. They were free to hit rocks,” he said. “And so if it didn’t cost money, I got to do it, one of those deals.”
The movie also involves faith. Dennis Quaid, who also stars in The Rookie, plays James Hill the strict father who was concerned with his son following the baseball dream. Instead, he wanted his son Rickey to follow in his footsteps as a Pastor.
“Our dad was a Baptist minister and we traveled,” he said of his family moving around a lot when he was a child. -RickeyHill.com
As a child, Rickey Hill had to wear leg braces that impacted his mobility. One day, he had ripped the braces off and his life had changed. “One day, at eight years old, I busted those braces off,” he told CBN’s Faithwire. “I never put ’em back on.” From that day on, the disability wasn’t going to restrict Hill from playing baseball. At least in the same way that it had, afterward it wasn’t as noticeable either.
“When I took the braces off, and I know you probably saw it in the film,” Rickey said on Your Biggest Breakthrough. “That happened exactly the way it happened. I yanked them off and I never put them on again.”
The father, James, had worried that his son would be made fun of because of his disability. “I had to let [my father] know that I wanted to make my own choice of what I wanted to do with my life, whether I wanted to be in the ministry or if I wanted to play baseball,” said Rickey. “And he actually understood, and we kinda came to terms that way.”
In speaking to Risen Magazine about the obstacles he faced, Rickey Hill recalled receiving the devastating news. “And then to find out when you’re 16 or 17 years old that you have no disc in your spine, really a big disappointment because it changed everything, to me being in pain almost every day playing.” Rickey’s disease had essentially left him with the spine of a 75-year-old man when he was 17.
In order to get a chance to play at the minor league level, Rickey Hill had to impress Red Murff, the scout known for discovering and signing Nolan Ryan. In the movie, Murff is played by Scott Glenn. The one fact that isn’t shown in the movie though, is that in real life Hill had to climb a 10-foot wall of a ballfield in order to approach Murff.
Hill discussed his conversation with Murff on the Baseball Together Podcast
“I walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder, and he turned around and he looked at me, and he said, ‘Do you know where you’re standing?’ Well, he’s six-foot-six and when he’s on the mound, now he’s ten feet tall. Think about that a minute. You talk about intimidation, that’s intimidation. And so, I said, ‘No sir. I don’t.’ He goes, ‘You’re standing on The Hill.’ …
And so, I said to him, I said to Red, I said, ‘Red, my name’s Rickey Hill, and I just wanted to let you know before I leave this camp that it’s a shame you’re never gonna get to see the best hitter in this camp.’ And he said, ‘Ya know, if your bat is in tune with your tongue, you’re a hell of a hitter.’ He said, ‘So you honestly believe you’re the best hitter here?’ And I said, ‘No sir, I don’t. I know I am.’ Well, that just really got him. I mean it really did, that just got him big-time.”
The moral of the story is to follow your dreams. The Hill (movie) is a good illustration that while there may be setbacks in life, nothing can truly get in your way if you are dedicated enough. Despite, its 6.8 star rating on IMDb and its 37% Tomatometer score, the movie features many life-learning opportunities. If you like movies about baseball and/or faith, it’s a must-watch.
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