Much to the delight of baseball fans, Major League Baseball players have started spring training in preparation for the 2012 season. While many players under contract are assured of a spot in a team’s organization, others are fighting to make enough of an impact to make a team. If players don’t latch on, they risk drifting into journeyman status or falling entirely out of baseball.

The story of one such player serves as a background for our Sports Movie of the Week, ‘The Rookie.’ The 2002 film is the inspirational, real-life story of Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid), who made his big league debut in 1999 at age 35.

A decade after his minor league playing career ended because of injury, Morris finds himself coaching high school baseball. Morris promises his players that he will try out for a major league team if they win the district championship. After his team wins, Morris makes good on his word, only to soon find himself signed by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ organization.

Five Reasons to Watch ‘The Rookie’

1. Actor Dennis Quaid is very believable as Morris. Quaid does much of his own pitching, though former minor league pitcher Jeff Dowdy also was used as a stunt double.

2. Cool homages to Carlton Fisk’s homer in Game Six of the 1975 World Series and Bobby Thomson’s playoff game-winning homer for the New York Giants in 1951.

3. The reactions of the onlookers as they watch Morris (Quaid) throw 98-miles per hour.

4. The actual Jim Morris has a cameo as an umpire during a minor league game set in Orlando.

5. Filmmakers received the permission to use the name of Texas Rangers’ shortstop Royce Clayton, whom Morris actually pitched against in his first major league appearance.

Click the play button to watch the original trailer of the film below: