Play Ball was the second episode of Season 4 of Quantum Leap, also the 55th overalll episode. Written by Tommy Thompson, the episode, which was directed by Joe Napolitano, originally aired on NBC-TV on September 25, 1991.
Sam is a washed-out baseball player named Lester "Doc" Fuller (played by Owen Rutledge) who has to help a younger and angrier player get into the major leagues, the player reminding him of Al when they first met.
August 6, 1961: Sam leaps into Lester "Doc" Fuller (the leapee is played by Owen Rutledge), a minor league pitcher who had been in the majors until one of his pitches hit somebody in the head and killed him. He disappeared for awhile and eventually ended up in the minors. Sam is sent up to pinch hit, and is thrown out trying to turn a double into a triple, and that costs them the game. The team manger forces Sam to watch over the team mascot – a pig – as punishment for being the one he holds most responsible for their loss.
Sam bonds with another pitcher on the team, the talented but anger-filled Chucky Myerwich (Neal McDonough). Chucky tells him all about how he’s going to pitch in an important game with a talent scout and how he got into baseball after his dad taught him how to play. Chucky is perfectly friendly with Doc, but contemptuous of the other players and so a fight nearly breaks out. The team manager, simply referred to as "Coach", (Don Stroud) warns Doc to keep Chucky in line and threatens Chucky that he’ll kick him off the team if he doesn’t shape up. Chucky assumes that he can’t afford to lose him and so is undeterred.
Sam knows very little about baseball, but fortunately, Al was a good pitcher and gives him some helpful hints. Sam does better than he thought he would and speculates that he might have been good at baseball back in high school. Al tells Sam that Doc is the one who pitches in the big game, and that, he blows it in the end after getting an injury, and that he eventually kills himself. Sam is there to make sure that Doc makes it back to the majors. However, Sam is more interested in Chucky, who apparently gets thrown out of baseball due to his temper and drinking and that team in particular after being caught with the owner’s daughter. Sam wants to help Chucky although Al can’t figure out why.
Al’s done some research on Chucky and tells Sam that, far from teaching Chucky how to play baseball, Chucky’s dad, Warren Monroe (Casey Sander), who still lives in the area, had walked out on the family a long time ago. He comes to the games, and keeps photos and newspaper clippings of all of his son's accomplishments on the baseball diamond however, but doesn’t tell Chucky.
Sam tracks Warren down, and finds out that Chucky’s dad has been closely following his son’s career and has his own scrapbook of it all. Sam tries to convince Warren to become a part of his life again but Chucky’s dad refuses. He tells Sam that his own father killed himself when he was unable to support the family and when he failed to support the family he couldn’t bring himself to end his life and so, deeply ashamed, he left. He thinks Chucky will be better off without him.
Sam is called in for a meeting with the team owner, and discovers that she’s a woman named Margaret Twilly (played by Maree Cheatham), whom Doc is apparently sleeping with in exchange for being allowed to start. Keeping in mind what Al told him he has to do to leap, Sam reluctantly agrees to attend a "private party" with Margaret the next night. When Sam gets back to the locker room, he discovers Chucky with a pretty blonde girl named Bunny (Courtney Gebhart), who's Margaret's daughter, and who had tried to jump Sam earlier and realizes that Doc sleeps in a cot in the locker room so he needs to do the same.
Chucky finds out he won’t be pitching and rages at Sam. Sam tries to go after him but Chucky will not be appeased and attacks Sam. Once Sam manages to pull himself to his feet, he decides to go after Chucky and try to stop him from being caught with the daughter instead of making nice with the mother. Al wants to know why Sam is so invested in Chucky and Sam finally admits that Chucky reminds him of Al, who doesn’t understand the comparison.
Sam recounts the tale of how they first met. They were both on "Project Starbright" and Al was drunk, angry, and attacking a vending machine with a hammer. Al tries to make light of it by saying that it ate his dime. Sam continues that the government wanted to kick Al off the project altogether, but he wouldn’t let them because he knew that Al was a terrific person underneath the alcohol and anger. He doesn’t know if Chucky is the same way but he thinks that Chucky deserves the chance to find out.
Sam finds Chucky passed out in the Bunny’s bed and tells the daughter that he knows she keeps hitting on him because she doesn’t know what to do about the man she really loves. She admits she doesn’t understand his anger but Sam assures her that it has nothing to do with her. Before Sam can leave with Chucky, however, the owner appears and kicks them both off the team.
They both show up anyway and Chucky apologizes to Doc, telling him that he understands that the clock is running out for him and that anyone would have done the same. Fortunately, before the game starts immigration comes to take away one of the players and the owner offers to let Chucky play in the game. He insists on Doc pitching and Sam plays a few innings. Strangely, his game is turning out exactly the same as the original one did. Sam reasons that he wasn’t leapt in there to keep things the same and so he takes himself off the mound.
Chucky wows the crowd pitching but he lets one of the batters hit something and Sam has to make an amazing catch in order to win the game. In the locker room afterwards, the scout is impressed with them both. He offers Doc a position as pitching coach, mostly on the strength of taking himself out of the game, and sends Chucky to Yankees feed-in team where he makes the major leagues in six months. Chucky’s father decides to listen to Sam after all and shows up to reunite with him and the future looks bright for them both.
- Travellin' Man (performed by Ricky Nelson)
|Quantum Leap Season Four|
|● The Leap Back ● Play Ball ● Hurricane ● Justice ● Permanent Wave ● Raped ● The Wrong Stuff ● Dreams ● A Single Drop of Rain ● Unchained ● The Play's The Thing ● Running For Honor ● Temptation Eyes ● The Last Gunfighter ● A Song For The Soul ● Ghost Ship ● Roberto! ● It's A Wonderful Leap ● Moments To Live ● The Curse of Ptah-Hotep ● Stand Up ● A Leap For Lisa ●.|