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NORWAY, IOWA: THE SUBJECT OF A NEW BASEBALL MOVIE, "THE FINAL SEASON"
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Norway, Iowa, is a small town of 586 people about 15 miles from the Perfect Game headquarters in Cedar Rapids. Until 1991, Norway was legendary in Iowa scholastic baseball, winning 12 state titles and sending at least 16 players to professional baseball and dozens more into college ball.
Norway's coach for much of their incredible run was Jim Van Scoyoc, now a supervisor with Perfect Game. One of the future college and professional stars was Tyson Kimm, who teamed with the Ford Family to start Perfect Game years ago.
The legend of Norway baseball, which ended when the high school was closed and its students merged into a bigger high school, is about to return, thanks to a movie in the pre-production stages named "The Final Season".
Iowa native Tony Wilson is the executive producer of "The Final Season" and the driving force behind the story line, which focuses on Norway's final drive to a state championship in 1991.
"We think that this movie could be the baseball version of what "Hoosiers" was to basketball," says Wilson. "All the natural story elements are there; the powerful tradition of Norway baseball, the small town atmosphere.....it's a very marketable story."
"Most of things that happen in the movie are based on what actually happened. Our biggest challenge with the script was in creating an underdog atmosphere, which wasn't immediately apparent when you're talking about a team that expected to win state every year."
Some of the details are certainly true to history. There is a reference in the movie to Norway's star All-State shortstop "Tyler Kitt" leaving the team after the 1990 season. "Tyler Kitt" was actually Tyson Kimm, who moved to California that year to join his father, ex Big League player, coach and manager Bruce Kimm (another Norway HS graduate) who was with the San Diego Padres at the time.
The lead actor for The Final Season is well known to movie fans. Sean Astin is best known as Sam the Hobbit from the Lord of the Rings, but also has a sports movie background from the acclaimed football film Rudy. Astin plays Kent Stock, the young assistant coach who takes over for Van Scoyoc for the team's last year.
Van Scoyoc will be played by veteran actor Sam Elliott. An interesting twist in the casting of the primary actors is the character "Mitch", the team's star player and leader. Mitch will be played by 17 year old Tyler Hoechlin, best known for his continuing role on the series 7th Heaven. Hoechlin is a real life accomplished baseball player who has twice played for the Midwest Scout Team at the Perfect Game / Baseball America WWBA World Championships.
According to Wilson, casting for the movie isn't complete. "We will be putting out a casting call for people with acting and baseball experience who are interested in having a baseball role in the movie." The baseball players/actors will attend a camp the week before the filming begins to work on their baseball actions and skills.
Van Scoyoc and Stock are both working with Wilson and the production crew on the baseball details to ensure they are authentic. "Getting to know these two coaches has been a big bonus to this project and I'm glad to call them friends," says Wilson. "They are both baseball lovers and Norway lovers."
Wilson also notes that there are still a few investment and sponsorship opportunities available for The Final Season. "It would be great if we could get some of the big name baseball companies involved," mentioning companies such as Wilson and Reebok and Rawlings.
The Final Season isn't Perfect Game's first brush with the movie industry. Jim Morris, whose unusual route to the Major Leagues inspired the movie "The Rookie" coached for Perfect Game at the WWBA World Championships for 2 years, including 2000 when his team, featuring future 1st rounders such as Scott Kazmir, Delmon Young, Jeremy Sowers, Landon Powell and Lastings Milledge won the championship.
Perfect Game director Dick Vaske, a native of Dyersville, Iowa, was integral in bringing one of the greatest baseball movies ever, "A Field of Dreams" to that Iowa town.
Below are 2 links that provide more information on "The Final Season".
The Website Link
News release about "The Final Season"
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