New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.78: Twilight Zone’s Mighty Casey

Let’s just say, I’d never get matched up with Baseball on Although, there’s not a single doubt that I’d get hooked up with The Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone always offered up some eerie story that satisfied my needs of horror and the unexplained. Then, there were some episodes that were just plain goofy and lighthearted. Surprisingly, one of these episodes involved the Garden State.

Filmed in L.A, but set in New Jersey, this episode aired in June of 1960, “The Mighty Casey” is a favorite of Twilight Zone fans who also love baseball. This episode is more comedic than spooky or scary, but it still has that signature twist that TZ is known for.

A ragtag baseball team, The Hoboken Zephyrs, were abysmal. They were the biggest disappointments in the league. Their manager, Mouth McGarry, was beyond embarrassed by them. Until the day that a man came by the field during practice to show off his star pitcher. McGarry had never seen pitching skills like this before. The pitcher was whizzing balls to the catcher so fast that he was making the balls smoke. He was zig-zagging and screwballing, and doing all kinds of stuff that McGarry and his team hadn’t ever seen before.

It turned out that Casey, the seemingly inhuman pitcher, was in fact…a robot! Once the league got wind of the fact that there was a robot in the league, they put a stop to it because it was required that all players are actual men. Using a loophole, Casey’s keeper, Dr. Stillman and McGarry both wondered if the league would reinstate Casey if they implanted a heart in him. The league indeed granted Casey back into the league once he had a heart put in, but, ultimately, receiving a heart removed all of Casey’s incredible pitching skills.

It’s not the worst Twilight Zone episode ever, but not really one that I ever go back and watch. It’s great for baseball fans, and fans of obscure fictional sports teams based out of New Jersey. If you Google the Hoboken Zephyrs you can actually buy a replica of their jersey! Now that’s geeky, and awesome.

*At the time this post was published, this episode of The Twilight Zone is streaming on Netflix

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 56: Trenton Thunder

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You’ll probably spend more money bringing your family to the movies than if you brought them all to a Trenton Thunder game. Just saying. If you’re like me and you can’t stand driving into The Bronx to see a Yankee game, this is the next best thing. Well, of course that’s a lie because the next best thing would be watching the Yanks on your crazy expensive, intricately designed, and unnecessarily powerful home theater system. But going to a Trenton Thunder game is not a bad choice either since they are the minor league double A team of The New York Yankees. Don’t think for a second that you’ll see some shitty team either, The Thunder have won several division titles as well as 2 league titles in 2007 and 2008. Great tickets are available at their official website. The Trenton Thunder’s home games are played at Mercer County Waterfront Park in Trenton NJ.

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New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol. 34: Brewster’s Millions

“C’mon, this is Hackensack, New Jersey, no scout comes here you understand that? A train’s going through the outfield right now…” – Spike Nolan, Brewster’s Millions

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It’s only a matter of days before pitchers and catchers will be reporting to spring training. To get you geared up for baseball season, today’s entry features 1985’s Brewster’s Millions starring Richard Pryor. If you are a baseball fan and you haven’t seen this, it’s worth adding to your Netflix queue. The film is actually based on George Barr McCutcheon’s 1902 novel which spawned several movies, but this incarnation is the most well known. In addition to it’s baseball backdrop, New Jersey also plays a  significant role in the film.

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We first see Brewster (Pryor) as the pitcher on the minor league Hackensack Bulls. At first the film is reminiscent of 2000’s The Replacements, and it’s possible that this low rent, rag tag baseball team might get a shot at the big leagues later in the movie. Once the plot is exposed as fairly un-baseball related, the story becomes a bit cockamamy. Brewster stands to inherit $300 million dollars from his deceased great uncle, but only if he’s able to spend $30 million in 30 days. Brewster does everything he can to spend the dough, including running for Mayor of New York City and hiring the New York Yankees to take on the Hackensack Bulls in a 3-inning exhibition game.

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Brewster’s Millions is one of those ’80s films that seems to get lost in the shuffle. The film is mildy humorous, thanks mostly to John Candy as Brewster’s friend, Spike Nolan. Candy was clearly not given the best material to work with but was still amusing as always. As the main character, Monty Brewster, even Pryor’s performance was mediocre at best. The storyline isn’t meant to be hysterical, but one would think that combining the comedic powers of Pryor and Candy on screen would equal gold, but it’s unfortunately not the case. I’m in no way implying that there are no funny parts in this film, but just not as many as I had hoped.

According to IMDB, Jennifer Beals was up for the role of Brewster’s love interest and financial advisor, Angela Drake, but the role ultimately went to Lonette McKee. McKee’s performance was dull and the film could’ve used a female lead with some sort of spark. McKee and Pryor didn’t have much chemistry at all and just the idea of Beals playing the role of Drake is much more enticing. I’m not sure why Beal didn’t get the role, but after reading more about Beals’ career, it seems to be a trend. She passed up the role of Appolonia in Purple Rain, and she was apparently the first choice to play Andie in Pretty in Pink, but lost out to Molly Ringwald.

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Friday the 13th Part III’s Gloria Charles in a Camden Braves Jersey

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Billboards at Pulaski Field: National Bank of Bergen County and Hasbrouck Dairy

Also thanks to IMDB, the exterior shot of Torchy’s Bar is also seen in 1979’s When a Stranger Calls:

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“…he was out drinking ’til 3:30 at a bar in Plainfield last night…”

Brewster’s Millions offers various other mentions of New Jersey, Newark, and the fictional Hackensack Bulls baseball team. Look out for a hysterical cameo by Rick Moranis as Morty King King of the Mimics and Yakov Smirnoff as Vladimir the driver.