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‘Million Dollar Arm’ employs the hidden-fact trick

From left: J.B. Bernstein, Dinesh Patel, and Rinku Singh.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

From left: J.B. Bernstein, Dinesh Patel, and Rinku Singh.

During the end credits of “Million Dollar Arm,” audiences get a welcome look at the real Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, Indian teens who landed contracts to pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates organization after winning a reality-show competition in 2007. The movie includes scenes with Singh (Suraj Sharma, “Life of Pi”) and Patel (Madhur Mittal) videotaping their odyssey at the direction of agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) — and sure enough, that footage found a home.

What this coda doesn’t give us are the further particulars of the pair’s story. Singh, who’s coming off of Tommy John surgery, has spent his career in A-ball. Patel, meanwhile, was let go after two seasons. He coached at a baseball academy in China, assisted on the movie and with subsequent “Million Dollar Arm” competitions back home, and is now a university student. “The goal,” Bernstein recently told the Globe, “is to finish up his degree, and take a job as a pitching coach at an MLB academy that hopefully will open in India.”

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They’re story details sacrificed to drama in the same way that “The Rookie” and “Invincible” — prior releases from the same sports-specializing producing team — omitted their subjects’ other, less cinematic professional stints. “The Rookie” (2002) ends with 35-year-old teacher Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) finally realizing his dream of pitching in the majors when he gets a call-up from Tampa Bay. The reality: The dream was fleeting, and Morris couldn’t keep it alive at Dodgers spring training a couple of seasons later. “Invincible” (2006) shows pickup-football dynamo Vince Papale catching on with the Philadelphia Eagles through an open tryout. The reality: Papale had already logged a pro stint with the Philadelphia Bell of the short-lived World Football League — hardly the NFL, but a venture that lured Hall of Famer Larry Csonka, among others.

Consider them judicious cuts needed to help keep the inspiration in inspirational sports movies. To paraphrase a Mark Twain pearl that Hollywood lives by, never let the truth — or the humbler facts on an athlete’s trading card — get in the way of a good story.


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