Spring training is an exciting time in major league baseball, and it’s about to get even more exciting for young pitcher Larry Kelly (Robert Young). Manager/owner Pop Clark (David Landau) has decided to bring Larry onto his team, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Pop needs a good player to bring the team a winning edge. He confesses to his daughter, team secretary Frances (Madge Evans), that if the Cardinals don’t win the World Series, he’ll be forced to give up his ownership to a rival businessman.
Frances and Pop are hopeful that Larry can be the key to saving the team, but soon, strange things begin happening. The Cardinals climb to the top of their league with Larry’s fantastic pitching, but someone’s trying to sabotage them… and it could lead to murder!
Death on the Diamond was directed by Edward Sedgwick. The screenplay was written by Harvey Thew, Joe Sherman, and Ralph Spence from a novel by Cortland Fitzsimmons.
Ah, baseball and crime. America’s two great pastimes. Can you imagine the media frenzy if there really was a string of serial killings tied to the world series? Death on the Diamond explores the idea… but in a light-hearted fashion, of course.
This film is not quite as funny as it wants to be, but is an amusing mystery-comedy with a competitive twist, thanks to the baseball angle. Suspicions fly between players, between clubs, and toward gamblers who bet on the teams. There’s a nice mix of baseball action (several games are shown) and mystery-driven intrigue.
While the script has its failings and not every laugh lands, the film does feature some interesting photography, and a few genuinely shocking moments (such as a dead baseball player being stuffed into, and then falling out of his locker).
Young and Evans have a very cute, flirty chemistry. Their banter adds a little bit of extra fun to the film, as does the much more venomous banter between Nat Pendleton and the umpire.
Death on the Diamond won’t be added to my list of favorites, but it is a decent little watch, with an outcome and criminal motive that I genuinely didn’t see coming. For all of its weaker moments, the film does succeed in holding the viewer’s interest with its mystery, and is particularly worth tuning in for if you’re a fan of Robert Young’s slightly-corny brand of comedy.