Friday arts: Plimpton film comes to PBS

I haven’t checked to see when either of my local PBS affiliates are showing “Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton As Himself,” which debuted last week.

I’m in a market in Atlanta where “first run programming” on PBS doesn’t get aired right away.

So it’s great and convenient that the full film, part of the PBS “American Masters” series, can be viewed here online (not embeddable, unfortunately).

This was issued in limited release at theaters last year (I blogged about it at the time).

Described by others as the “collector of experiences,” and a “universal amateur,” Plimpton called himself a “participatory journalist” who tried his hand at quite a few sporting activities, and wrote about them, including his bestselling “Paper Lion.”

Plimpton, who died in 2003, still has a lot to inspire anyone, whether they’re in sports or not, about daring to take leaps into different experiences. He liked to call it “making a success out of failure.”

While Plimpton may have had the luxury of being able to do this without taking the risks of those in middle class life and below, the zest for trying new things is a common yearning:

“You can become what you want to become.”

Well, maybe not a quarterback for the Detroit Lions. But it was worth the shot.

There’s a segment in the film devoted to Plimpton’s famous (or perhaps infamous) article for Sports Illustrated in 1985, “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch,” about a Mets rookie pitcher who could throw a fastball really fast — 168 mph. It turned out to be an April Fool’s hoax.

And yet, the Mets held a “Sidd Finch Retirement Day” as the author’s creation “came to embody a piece of baseball’s eternal dreaminess, its belief that someday, someone might come out of nowhere with a pitching arm touched by the heavens.”

Below is a trailer; the full film is an hour, 23 minutes.

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