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Poster: Mr. Television  (see this users gallery)

Hardball ran from September until October 1994 on FOX.


This short-lived baseball comedy spent much of its time in the locker room of the Pioneers, am inept American League Baseball Team, and quickly struck out ( It might have been bad timing as the show premiered at the same time that the real Major League Baseball Players went out on strike and resulted in the cancelation of the World Series).


Dave ( Bruce Greenwood), the intelligent, wise-cracking team leader , was a veteran pitcher. Mike ( Mike Starr), the team's starting catcher and Dave's best friend was a former all-star who had put on so much weight he could barely squat behind home plate. Frank ( Joe Rogan), the teams overpaid 25-year old superstar, had a big ego, a big mouth, and no tact. Others around the lockers were Arnold( Phill Lewis), the stylish second baseman; Lloyd ( Chris Browning), a naive rookie pitcher with a strong arm but limited control; and Happy ( Dann Florek), the new manager, a disciplinarian who terrorized them all. Brad ( Steve Hytner), the Pioneers General Manager was a manipulating conniver, while Lee ( Alexandra Wentworth), the nervous young publicity manager had her work cut out keeping Frank and his teammates from getting bad press for their verbal and social indiscretions. Mitzi ( Rose Marie), the widowed owner of the team, hated finishing in last place and yelled at the team with language worthy of a truck driver. Nelson ( Adam Hendershott), Mitzi's grandson, was the team's batboy and Hardball, the team's mascot, was a guy in a pioneer uniform with a giant baseball head and a bad attitude.


A Review from Variety


Hardball
((Sun. (4), 8:30-9 p.m., Fox))
By TODD EVERETT


Videotaped in Los Angeles by Interbang, Inc. and Magic Beans, Inc. in association with Touchstone Television. Executive producers, Jeff Martin, Kevin Curran; producer, Mark Gossan; co-producers, Tracy Newman, Jonathan Stark; directors, John Whitesell, Peter Baldwin; script, Kevin Curran, Jeff Martin.

Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Mike Starr, Alexandra Wentworth, Dann Florek, Joe Rogan, Chris Browning, Steve Hynter, Phill Lewis, Rose Marie, Ashlee Levitch, Adam Henderschott, Mel Winkler, Eddie Velez, Nancy Valen, Charles Cyphers, Christpher B. Duncan, Dave Sebastian Williams, Jonathan Stark, Jack Kenny, Terry Cain, Frank Medrano, Jim Breuer, Joel McKinnon Miller, Jimmy Danelli, Brian Levinson, Louis Lombardi.

Pro baseball's the setting for unambitious, forced sitcom new to Fox's Sunday night lineup. Unavailable to critics before airing, it should have remained in the dugout for further retooling.
In latest incarnation of pilot that's been shot at least twice, Rose Marie is featured as Mitzi Balzer, tough-talking, boisterous owner of perennially losing major league team the Pioneers; she's a toned-down version of Marge Schott, complete with hand-held pooch.


Ernest (Happy) Talbot (Dann Florek) is the Pioneers' new manager; Lee Emory (Alexandra Wentworth) has come aboard as the team's PR staffer. Remainder of featured cast are ballplayers, a rowdy, irascible and stereotyped lot including big and dumb Lloyd LaCombe (Chris Browning), bulky Mike Widmer (Mike Starr) and Phill Lewis as Arnold Nixon, who must be the first black nicknamed "Lightning" on television since "Amos & Andy" left the air.


Bruce Greenwood toplines as Dave Logan, the team wiseacre and resident hunk, this show's analog to Steven Weber's character on "Wings." Everything on this show has been seen before, even the team's logo, based on that of the Cleveland Indians.


First episode introduces everybody, has Logan unwittingly bed Talbot's daughter (the appealing Nancy Valen, who's not a regular so far). If he'd seen "The Paper Chase," Logan would have seen it coming, but it's unlikely that anybody in or watching this series is a fan of that film.


Wentworth's character comes through with a publicity stunt that gains the fans' attention and instills some much-needed team spirit.


Earlier version of pilot didn't have the Schott character and -- though subplots and even much dialogue were the same as on the aired incarnation -- was more subtle and funnier than what landed on the air. Maybe Fox knows their audience, but what they've got would probably be better off following "Married... With Children" than "The Simpsons."



A Review from USA TODAY


TV PREVIEW/BY MATT ROUSH


'Hardball'


The most promising of it's premieres , Hardball is a minor-league Major League ripoff of a baseball sitcom, harmless enough in an early pilot. But a revised version , with new characters including Rose Marie as a crass Marge Schott-like team owner , was unavailable for preview-not a good sign.


Otherwise it's Fox business as usual: schlock and raunch.



An Article from the Chicago Tribune


`Hardball' Returns Rose Marie To Bat
September 24, 1994|By Lynette Rice, Los Angeles Daily News.


LOS ANGELES — A new gig on television certainly will help settle a nagging question in the minds of many fans of the old "Dick Van Dyke Show," Rose Marie insists.


It will prove that, yes, the actress who co-starred as Sally Rogers on the popular 1960s CBS comedy is very much alive and well and living in the Los Angeles area of Van Nuys.


"It bothers me that people think I'm either dead or retired. I say, `I'm working, folks. I've really been working,' " said Marie, 71. "But I guess with the repetition of `The Dick Van Dyke Show,' people didn't realize I've gone on."


What she's gone on to is a full-time job on "Hardball," a new Fox comedy featuring a major league team with a dreadful 2-8 record. Rose Marie plays team owner Mitzi Balzer, an acid-tongued widow who seldom minces words when dealing with her ballplayers.


"They're (the team) not doing what they're supposed to do," the actress said of the show (8:30 p.m. Sundays, WFLD-Ch. 32). "I say, `They're out of Madonna's bed and into the Betty Ford Clinic.' "


Such flippant comments suit Rose Marie, herself a cut-to-the-quick kind of woman. "Yes, I'm very open, very honest, very frank about everything," she acknowledged. "I'm putting a lot of me in there."


And it's classic Rose Marie, but it also may appear as vintage Marge Schott, the widow and raspy-voiced owner of the Cincinnati Reds.


The comparisons are beyond accidental: Mitzi Balzer owns a chihuahua named Balzie, while Schott has a St. Bernard named Schotzie. All that Schott is missing is the little bow in her hair, Rose Marie's signature accessory (she wears it on her new show).


But Rose Marie assures that Schott was an unknown to her when she was developing the character and that there was no attempt to copy the Reds owner. She saw Schott's picture but saw little resemblance-except in their mutual love for baseball.


"I was very big on baseball when I was a kid. My father used to take me to ballgames, the Yankees all the time," she said.


Although she has no current plans to retire from acting, Rose Marie said there actually was a time in 1966 when she lost the drive to work. After the death of her husband, Guy, a former trumpet player for the NBC orchestra, Rose Marie was ready to give up everything after a five-year stint as a wise-cracking, man-hungry comedy writer on "Dick Van Dyke" ended in 1966.


"They said, `Go do your act, keep busy,' " said Rose Marie, who never remarried. "I said, `I don't feel like it. I don't want to sing anymore.' I had such a mental block."


Leaving the comforts of "Dick Van Dyke" was no easy matter. The camaraderie on the show that co-starred Mary Tyler Moore and Morey Amsterdam was infectious and the comedy was unbeatable, she said.


"There was nothing dirty on `Dick Van Dyke,' nor were there double-entendres. It was just wholesome entertainment. I watch the show myself and I laugh, and I know what's coming," Rose Marie said. The show still airs on the Nickelodeon cable channel.


The actress said she was busy turning down a few movies and more TV scripts when she got word of "Hardball." The show turned out to be a reunion, of sorts-her director, Peter Baldwin, worked with her on "Dick Van Dyke."


"She's just a delight," Baldwin said. "She has a good, hard delivery. Even when Morey (Amsterdam) would make a snappy joke, she would have an ironic comment on it all. She still has that."



To watch an episode of Hardball go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yAxN_hX91g



For more on Hardball go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardball_%281994_TV_series%29


For an episode guide go to http://web.archive.org/web/20040918100610/www.geocities.com/Hollywood/9821/1hardbal.txt




To watch the opening credits of Hardball go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnBBARXeUek
Date: Fri July 21, 2006 Filesize: 72.3kb, 166.8kb Dimensions: 875 x 596
Keywords: Hardball: Cast Photo (Links Updated 7/29/18)

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