Sam Simpson, Hobbs's discoverer (played by John Finnegan), challenges Max Mercy, the cynical sportswriter: "I got ten dollars that says he can strike Wambold out with three pitched balls...."
"Oh, I love contests of skill," says mankiller Harriet.
"How about you, Huckleberry, you scared?" asks the Whammer.
"Not of you," says Roy.
It's a scene that might have been lifted from a boys' serial, but it has enormous significance to the story because it simultaneously unveils Hobbs's miraculous powers and presages his doom. Redford wears no makeup to disguise his age, but he expresses the self-consciousness of a young man, and the expression on his shadowy face is both confident and embarrassed. It's the look he had in The Way We Were when the English professor revealed that Redford, the athlete, not Barbra Streisand, the grind, had written the best short story. It's craftsmanship approaching art.
The scenes with Close, who is in her 30s, are shot mostly in a moonlit barn. Although their maturity is successfully shrouded, both reach too breathlessly for an adolescent tone. ("Oh God, I've never ridden on a train before....") But the tenderness shows. At the end of this scene, Close buries her head in Redford's shoulder, and his own head inclines toward hers. The lights flash on in the little theater. Levinson, blinking, stretches. Johnson scribbles something on a notepad. Redford continues staring at the suddenly blank screen as the sound men turn to him. "My God," he says finally, "that sounded as if I was crying."